Before you answer that question, let me explain! I just finished a thought-provoking and insightful book written by Dee Dee Myers, entitled, “Why Women Should Rule The World.” The former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton challenges all of us to consider the possibilities if women were to reach the top ranks in every field. This is not a male bashing book nor does it attack men in any way. Rather, this compelling and sensible read emphasizes the positive strengths women can offer any organization.
Drawing from interviews with successful women, extensive research and her own experiences, Myers presents a compelling case of why women are quite capable of being in charge!
Here are some highlights and quotes:
- Genetically speaking, men and women are incredibly similar; 99 percent of our genetic material is the same. Hmmm, I thought. Only a 1 percent difference; that doesn’t seem like very much. But when I read that chimpanzees differ from humans by just 1.5 percent, that small difference is pretty darn big.
- Do men and women lead differently? Is there such a thing as a “female style?” A recent analysis of forty-five separate studies addressing the questions found that the answer was “yes.” Women are slightly more likely to be “transformational” leaders, collectively setting goals and empowering their teams to achieve them. Men are more likely to be “transactional” leaders, letting subordinates know what is expected, rewarding them for their success, and holding them accountable for their failures. Not surprisingly, some leaders did not fit neatly into one or the other of these categories, but there was, nonetheless, a measurable difference based on gender.
- Not only do women have a somewhat different style; it’s more likely to be successful. It’s further evidence that there is more than one way to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, that different leadership styles – regardless of their gender – can get the job done. And that gives everyone more options; it creates a more flexible, more adaptive and ultimately more productive workplace.
- The areas of the brain that track gut feelings are larger and more sensitive in the female brain, according to brain scan studies. Therefore, the relationships between a woman’s gut feelings are her intuitive hunches are grounded in biology. Among other things, women are particularly sensitive to what other people may be feeling. An analysis of 125 separate studies found that, “women are better than men at decoding emotional messages – and better at spotting lies.”
As a mother to a boy and girl, I have my own unscientific observations of how the two sexes think and act differently. Currently, as I post my entry, my daughter has emptied her entire closet on the floor and started to iron each piece of clothing with her toy iron and board. In the meantime, her stuffed animals surround her each with its own tea set. Occasionally she’ll stop to refill every cup, give her “friends” a kiss, and stroke their fur, all the while engaged in full conversation with each of them as she continues conducting her daily chore! While at the same time, my son is playing baseball and running around the house using stuffed animals as the ball, smashing them with his bat, and hurling them through the air. This is the same boy that at the age of 2, would construct his PB&J sandwiches in the shape of a weapon and go around shooting his potato chips. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter has lots of energy, loves to get muddy and is very busy. But their creative play is instinctually different. A combination of nature and nurture no doubt.
Men and women are different but equal. Consequently, when building a healthy leadership team, be attuned to the distinctions, welcome the diversity, embrace the differences, and appreciate the vast array of skill sets and gift mixes both genders bring to the board table! What do you think?