In an increasingly more connected and more complex society, successful leaders of both sexes will find themselves moving toward a management style that accesses both male and female strengths.
You heard me: Women are better leaders than men. That’s a pretty bold statement. After all, the vast majority of prime ministers, executives, managers, supervisors, etc., are all still men.
But how long will this stay true? The idea that women particularly excel as leaders is rapidly gaining ground, for the simple reason that women are great at relationships — and leadership is essentially a relationship between the ones leading and the ones being led.
In fact, not long ago a Harvard Business Review study discovered that women rate higher than men in 12 of 16 qualities associated with strong leadership. Yup, it seems that when it comes to team building, goal setting, change embracing, problem solving, risk assessment and other leadership characteristics women are, um, the man.
What’s more, women scored higher than men in “initiative-taking” and “driving for results,” personality traits that have long been considered to be particularly masculine.
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It’s an interesting turn of events. Women are learning to play more like men at the same time that business itself is evolving toward what some call a “feminized” model, valuing collaboration, teamwork and interpersonal skills. Employers are (finally) discovering that cooperation is more powerful than control, and that to engage is more effective than to command.
So does this mean that women are going to take over the world, that men will no longer be needed?
No, and not just because this is impossible, undesirable and a little crazy. Indeed, this seemingly inflammatory issue is less about men and women, per se, than about masculine and feminine traits. As we all know, everyone has both a masculine and a feminine side, and everyone is capable of developing both these sides.
So, men, you can relax. As is usually the case, the best choice is to aim for a spot somewhere in the middle. Picture a world where men are working on empathy and dialogue, where women are working on being less cautious and more willing to challenge the status quo, and where both sexes work together in harmony.
Sounds like a pretty great world, doesn’t it?
The good news is that in an increasingly more connected and more complex society, successful leaders of both sexes will find themselves moving toward a management style that accesses both male and female strengths.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.