Gender Leadership : A Serious Business
What is leadership? – the capability to lead. Whether they run a major corporation or serve in elected offices – leaders bring a combination of traits to the table. Some traits which are clearly more important than others – would be honesty, intelligence and decisiveness.
Men and women both tend to agree on the importance of these leadership qualities – with both nearly sharing equal views about being honest, intelligent, organized and decisive being essential. Although women are somewhat more inclined towards the importance of intelligence and honesty than do men.
However, larger gender gaps emerge on some of the other traits. Women tend to grow an opinion to say that being compassionate is absolutely essential in a leader, whereas men don’t.
The relationship women and leadership share in entrepreneurship, has been quite a popular topic to talk on about, recently. However, most of the discussion focuses on understanding the issue instead of ideas for action. There’s no lack of women in leadership positions, But they are still not represented at the upper levels.
But what does gender has to do with leadership? How can both things be even compared? Yes, exactly – the gender bias in upper positions of leadership has been carried out for long. And no, it isn’t actually visible – because people who think they hate discrimination, they also happen to do it unpurposefully.
Men have long dominated in many areas , which includes leadership positions – which was especially apparent in business, where women in leadership roles at top most corporate positions had been scarce. However, women have entered more leadership positions throughout industry – and this trend has provided an opportunity to examine the differences between the roles performed by men and women as leaders.
The conversation on gender leadership is almost stuck in the middle. Everyone has realized there’s a problem, but no one has a proper solution to it. Talking about traditional leadership and how it works – the solution to this problem by telling women to become more masculine and men to act less for the same matter – this approach isn’t working.
While women have considerate amount of entry-level employees, there’s a serious lack of women leaders. And, men and women, both have agreed that this gender-bias impacts largely on the lack of women in leadership positions. There is a double standard in those cases where women seek to achieve the highest levels in either politics or business. This problem is well acknowledged and well documented, yet the conversation is stuck.
Here’s why the issue isn’t moving forward and what could be done to move it in the right direction:
Individuality Changes System
Everyone has been discussing the bias in the system and are placing unrealistic expectations on women leaders. Because the truth is: women constantly have more work to do and overcome more obstacles to get leadership positions. And even after attaining them, they have to do more to been as effective. But talking about these issues won’t really fix the situation. Change has to start individually to change individual opinions. Professionals, despite gender, need to focus on their own skills, interactions and be aware of their biases to work towards the change.
Leadership Development And Women
The importance of communication, empathy and positive reinforcement – has been well emphasized by the employers and employees, alike. Men are encouraged to develop more women leadership qualities like being less masculine – but women aren’t encouraged to adopt leadership traits of men to their skill set. Why? Well, how lame it might sound, but, actually, they wouldn’t be well liked.
So, the basic problem is about – effectiveness and likeability. Women can be seen as well-liked or highly effective, but not both. The harsh truth is, when women adopt those male traits, they are seen as less competent. Leadership development is actually failing women because it takes an all or nothing approach, which is not right in any sense and needs to be balanced.
Striking A Balance
As it’s been said earlier – a balance needs to be maintained between both genders. Compared to men, women are considered mentally and emotionally stronger than men. However, there are some conflicting studies regarding their roles – which suggest that men have a little bit edge over women in executive positions. Basically, leadership effectiveness depends on context – adapting the behaviors based on audience, approach and their genders. For this, it is required for the leaders to develop expressions of both genders, depending upon what is needed, instead of relying on one default set.
To have a perfect balance between both genders in leadership – leaders need right development and training too. They won’t automatically become more balanced. There should be a starting point – for example, reviewing how leaders are treated in the organization.and this includes both the genders. Are those leaders supported? Are both leaders rewarded for balance and effectiveness? Are women learning to use masculine traits of leadership qualities by leadership development programs?
All leaders are needed to be trained by their employers to take an approach that is more balanced, and leaders are needed to focus on skill enhancement. To work towards a real change and develop more efficient leaders, the current situation needs to be focussed on discussing solutions and not the problem.