Most of us still grin when someone mentions the 1990’s book “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.”
Did we need a book to tell us that?
But it’s not just relationship issues that set the sexes apart. They also differ in how they go about their jobs – and how effectively they’re perceived as leaders.
In August 2014, former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck suggested in an interview that the 2008 financial crisis might have turned out differently if it were the “Lehman Siblings” instead of the “Lehman Brothers”.
As she pointed out, many people claimed that the crisis wouldn’t have happened if it were the “Lehman Sisters” instead. Her viewpoint, however, asserts that gender diversity is the key to “combatting the kind of groupthink” that has ruled over Wall Street and led to the 2008 crisis.
So, just what do women bring to the table – and what is it that makes them such effective leaders?
Qualities that Make Women Effective Leaders
Leaders are people who normally declare possible what other people do not. This is precisely what makes them leaders.
-Rafael Echeverria, Ph.D.
Frieda Klotz wrote in Forbes that while there are plenty of distasteful stereotypes about female leaders, truth is, it just isn’t so.
German chancellor Angela Merkel came in fourth in Forbes’ list of the most powerful people – well ahead of her European colleague Nicolas Sarkozy. Even Hillary Clinton’s ratings are higher than they’ve ever been.
Communication is one area where women are often thought to outshine their male counterparts. Women also have a different perspective than men and tend to look at problems and possible solutions differently.
Women are also often thought of as empathic – they understand what others are feeling – and that skill greatly enhances effective leadership.
And after the many financial disasters in the US and abroad, long-term thinking came to the forefront as a prized character trait, as did risk awareness and caution, according to Klotz, characteristics very often viewed as “feminine”.
The best teams are not one-sided with all-male or all-female members, but rather a blend of “skills and backgrounds which bring spark and innovation to organizations,” wrote Sylvian Perrins in the Financial Times.
Just How Are Women Leaders Different?
Bob Sherwin, Business Insider contributor and COO of leadership consultancy Zenger Folkman, examined women leaders in a three-part series.
Research revealed the effectiveness of women as leaders appears to change over time. When men and women first start their careers, there is little perceived difference. Then men are seen as slightly more effective. But as women mature, they’re viewed in a progressively more positive light.
The gap between men and women continues to widen until they hit their 60’s, when it starts to narrow. At its height, there is a difference between men and women of 9 percentile points.
When women were questioned about why they might been seen as more effective leaders, the researchers heard frequently, “In order to get the same recognition and rewards, I need to do twice as much, never make a mistake and constantly demonstrate my competence.” In other words – do more, and do it better.
How many women have found themselves doing just that? The findings further revealed women were seen as more effective than men in taking initiative, driving results, and being positive role models.
Interestingly, in male-dominated fields such as engineering, IT and others, women received higher effectiveness ratings. Even as they climb the corporate ladder, the higher they move, the more positively they are perceived.
Industrial and organizational psychologist and leadership consultant Dr. Gordon Curphy co-authored a book, The Rocket Model: Practical Advice for Building High Performing Teams. He writes that while doing research at the Air Force Academy, he discovered women generally make better leaders.
“To me, leadership is all about whether you can build a cohesive, goal-oriented team that gets results. Women do a better job at that than men do,” Curphy commented in an interview.
So, that old saying just might be true, “If you want something done, ask a woman!”
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Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.