The gist of the article comes in the very first paragraph: “Which companies perform better for investors–those led by women or those by men? In our limited study, at least, there’s a ringingly clear answer: Women deliver the goods on a far more consistent basis.”
So, does that mean that women make better leaders?
Well, I was all set to make a very strong case that they do. But when I started to think about it I realized that what I respond to in a leader in actually their feminine attributes. For example, I absolutely embraced in my mind President Pinera of Chile as he embraced each of the miners that rose from the depths of the Earth last week to freedom - rejoicing jubilantly, showing his emotion and his passion, exalting with his people and his country, hugging, kissing, singing, inspiring…
He was showing his feminine side – wasn’t he? And I believe in my heart I’d follow him anywhere.
When I think about the leaders I’ve worked with and for, the ones I have most respected are women and the few men that genuinely empowered me.
As I think about that last part, I think what I’m saying is in my experience male leaders have a much harder time giving power to others – empowering others – to make something happen in the way they deem best. I think men have a deep rooted fear that by empowering others they are giving away their own power, which I believe could not be further from the truth.
On the other hand, women leaders I’ve worked with and have admired seem to have a more innate ability to empower others, nurture others, to not fear others’ success but rather to set their employees up for success, to share credit, to listen, to negotiate without ego getting involved but rather to strive for the win-win, to encourage, to teach, to trust, and to allow themselves to dream big.
So what struck me, in particular, about “Girls Rule” was the statement that Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon, who led the study with a 394% increase in the stock performance of her company during her tenure, is known for her “confrontational style.” I’m curious as to why the author pointed this out – does he think that is what drives her success? Did he want us to know that her defining style is one that some might say is male in nature?
Which leads me to these questions:
- Is it perhaps leaders who exert a balance of feminine and masculine attributes as they lead that are most successful, and not necessarily one gender or the other?
- Do I “respond” best to leaders who openly exhibit feminine attributes because I’m a woman?
- Do my male colleagues respond to feminine attributes more so than male attributes when it comes to leaders?
- Do men feel the need to hide their “feminine side” (and you all have one, it’s part of being human) when it’s time for them to lead?
What do you think…? Join Steve and I on Tuesday evening, October 19th at 8:00 pm Eastern Time for a lively #LeadershipChat debate! And don’t forget to go to Steve’s blog tomorrow to see his video counterpoint to my post!
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Photo is Estatua de la Libertad by Esparta.