a female leadership quality?!

It is a headline that catches the eye, isn't it?
Why women make better CEOs in the 21st century.

It is Sunday morning. I am browsing The Sunday Telegraph at Heathrow. It is International Women's Day and the paper is making a bit of a splash with an eye-catching headline. I've always found women preachers to be reluctant to say that there is a distinctive voice which they offer to preaching. Could the same be said of women leadership styles?

Not according to this article. Out with masculine command-and-control styles and in with 'feminine' collaboration-and-listening ones. Less kings and macho-heroes - and more orchestrators. According to Simon Sinek, what we need are 'more leaders with female qualities such as empathy and humanity. Aggression and self-interest are the qualities of bad leadership.'

Hmmm...  I am tempted to leave my response with Sir Ian Richardson, from yesteryear's House of Cards: 'you might think that - I could not possibly comment'.  But I won't. I suspect a stronger case can be made for a distinctive voice (and style) in the field of leadership than it can be made for preaching. While there are times when I have seen this to be the case - I still can't help feeling a little sorry for the male leader who has empathy and humanity!

The online article omits a box embedded in the print version of the article. Five Keys to Good Leadership. They are so good, I quote them in full here (partly because I do not want to lose them):
1 Good leadership is about communicating a vision of something that does not exist yet. Hitting revenue targets is not a vision. The worst combination is a leader who keeps a tight grip while offering no vision.
2 Once you have defined that vision, you need to articulate it. Employees are increasingly questioning why they work for a company. So CEOs have to convince others to get on board, leading sideways rather than just downwards. Instead of vision, many CEOs prefer to use the word 'purpose'.
3 Surround yourself with people who are better than you, [ie appoint your weakness] developing and building that talent. Nurturing talent is like being a parent, in that you take pride when your executives achieve independence.
4 Avoid being pushed into instant decisions. Think about what you are doing. Too many CEOs are pushed around by social media. Don't let yourself be bullied by a fickle public.
5 Walk the walk. You need to embody qualities such as collaboration, encouragement, and listening rather than just pay lip-service to them You need to be an exemplary role model.
Intuitively, this seems to hit that proverbial nail on its equally proverbial head - although they missed the opportunity to speak of how #1 can be done through collaboration and listening. In my experience, 'the vision thing' is one area that still receives the controlling, macho, directive, 'downwards' treatment ... but maybe that is just my feminine side speaking:).

nice chatting



not a wild hera said…

I'm among your students who don't perceive a male/female difference in preaching, and I agree with you that leadership is an area where a difference is perhaps more likely.

But whether it's socialised or inherent is of course up for debate.

Recent gender research tends to highlight the similarities between men and women (and even more between boys and girls). I would expect that a male and female who are 'natural' leaders might have rather more in common in terms of character and personality than, say, two men, one of whom was a leader and one really wasn't.

Given that, I really rail at labelling any traits 'feminine' or 'masculine'. If a woman is displaying a trait, it's hardly useful - or even coherent, most of the time - to call it 'masculine'.

So I appreciate your punctuation marks in the blog post title, Paul :)
not a wild hera said…
And I really like the list!
Paul said…
Recent gender research would not be my strong suit ... and, by instinct, I would have to be coaxed into trusting it, I'm afraid.

I don't mind seeing distinctions in the genders (particularly with children, for example - without falling into stereotyping etc) as I think it can be part of the beauty and complementarity of creation and design. It is not an issue that winds me up.

And with leadership I'd rather see the focus fall on recognising that once godly character is in place and maturing, an awful lot of leadership is a learnable set of skills that both genders need to embrace.

I've just come from a conversation that really does wind me up. 'Person X's leadership style shows they are not a collaborative team player, preferring to work on their own, and so could not be a Dean in our college'. Well - Person X needs to go away and learn to be a collaborative team player. Don't hide behind the weakness - or the gender (if that is what people are arguing for).

Thems me thoughts


Popular Posts