Do Women Make Better Leaders, and If So, Why?
December 10, 2012 § 2 Comments
Over the past three years, research out of Pepperdine University, MIT, the Harvard Business School, and other research centers have pointed to a positive correlation between number of women in leadership to an organization’s performance. True also in lab settings measuring team performance and team creativity. While caution is advised in overgeneralizing and stereotyping successful leadershjp behavior based on gender (not all women share these key values and traits, and there are many men who have them), Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson (How Women Lead) have distilled the findings into key strengths common to great women leaders. Here are a few noteworthy ones from their book. None of these traits are hard wired. They are doable and are not beyond the reach of any of us:
- Women are values-based: Highly successful women leaders define their values and tend to use them as a lens to make decision. This tends to give women more moral courage when faced with difficult choices.
- Women are holistic: They have a multi-faceted perspective on the world. They go beyond black and white facts and numbers, and include culture, relationships and values as key drivers in problem solving. In a sense, this give them the ability to ‘see around corners.’
- Women are inclusive and collaborative: They build strong relationships with vendors, customers and across organizational boundaries. They encourage contribution in meetings and tend to act more non-hierarchical in evaluation of ideas. They are less concerned about getting their idea approved, and more concerned about finding the best decision.
- Women invest time in consultation: They are more likely to spend time with those who have to implement a decision, or be affected by it, resulting in more long lasting buy-in to change, and reduced time to implement it.
- Women bring a commitment to a purpose greater than themselves: Going beyond their personal territorial goals, they help team members individually understand how they can contribute to larger organizational aspirations as well as meet personal career goals, thus generating more motivation and commitment.
- Women generate trust from employees: They get to know their direct reports, and are more likely to be described as a boss who knows and cares about what’s going on in their direct reports’ lives. People tend to go the extra mile for those they believe care about them.
Just these few traits are worth paying attention to, especially in this millenium as the need for more inclusive leadership grows as an attractor & retainer to new employees. The classic John Wayne type of command and control worked in the past, and still does in certain situations now, but it’s not the model most people want to follow now.
Valid points, all, about the traits of women leaders. Also interesting would be a look at the characteristics of companies who are not afraid to put women in leadership positions.
Thanks Ryan. Yes, it would be good to know that about those companies. Clearly, as the world – and particularly the world of business – has evolved over the past 50 years, the need for an upgrade for the software of management has become dire since it was invented in the 1850’s (meeting the needs of the industrial revolution). Some companies, or at least units within them, have stepped up, some haven’t. With the amount of education of many, and information about everything available to all, John Wayne style leadership doesn’t have the appeal, or relevance it once had. Managers that don’t get that will be woken to it.