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The female of the species…

default-16x9 not necessarily more deadly than the male, but does appear to be a better leader.

One of the great things about modern technology - in particular, the internet - is the extent to which it opens us up to other influences and other points of view.  Now, you have to be careful with this - it’s important to open up the doors of our mind in order to let in the currents of the world, but it’s equally important that we stay on our feet and not get washed away. There is so much information available, so much to which we have access, that it would be easy to become overwhelmed and swamped.  However, some judicious filtering and pruning can allow you to access a great many sources of information.

An interesting nugget that my RSS feeder brought to me this week was this article from the Harvard Business Review.  To cut a long story short, the article asks whether women make better leaders and then, using data from a recent survey conducted by HBR, essentially answers that question in the affirmative.  It would seem, from the data, that women do indeed make better leaders.  In fact, women outscored men in 14 of the 16 competencies exhibited by top leaders - including those previously thought to be particularly male traits.

Of course, there is nothing inherently “male” or “female” about leadership and just being a member of a particular gender doesn’t automatically equip an individual to be a leader.  But it is striking the degree to which women outscored men, as rated by their managers, subordinates and peers. And it’s even more striking, given these scores, how few women there actually are in leadership positions - the majority are men and this majority increases the higher up the corporate ladder you go.

In a week where Greg Smith effectively wiped over a billion pounds off the share price of Goldman Sachs by publishing his resignation letter in the New York Times, I have to wonder whether his critique of the “decline in the firm’s moral fibre” and the change in the way it thought about leadership would have happened if the senior management had been female.  It’s not a new thought: for years, people have been speculating on whether the world economy would be greatly different now had it been Lehman Sisters, rather than Lehman Brothers.  What’s disappointing is that we still don’t seem to be learning lessons, four years after that bank went down.

Women still seem to hit the glass ceiling of male sexism, in all industries.  Only last week, I was speaking to a woman who had been told by her boss (a man) not to apply for a position because he would “hate to see her fall flat on her face.” No doubt he thought he was being helpful and protective but is it likely that he would have said the same to a male prospective applicant? She thought not and I agree.  But, so long as the majority of leaders are not the right people for the job, it looks like we’re destined to go on repeating the same mistakes...

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