This coming Monday, August 22nd, I will guest moderating the Twitter chat, #UsGuysChat during which we will discuss gender and leadership styles. The #UsGuysChat will start at 3pm ET/12pm PT/8pm BST. I hope you can join us and add your perspective.  It should be a very interesting conversation…

It is so easy to polarize this topic. We could go there.

Women are better leaders because they (fill in the blank).

Men are better leaders because they (fill in the blank).

But what are we really talking about? Humans do seem to have a penchant for creating dichotomies where there have to be winners and losers. But what if they are really false dichotomies? What if what we need most, particularly in turbulent times, is a leader who is willing to access his/her whole self? Since the 1990’s, it has been noted in research that there really isn’t a marked differenceMen, Women, Leadership and Business between how men and women lead. And yet, the question persists of whether or not men and women lead organizations differently.

Let’s take a look at the general qualities each gender brings to leadership.

Given that these are generalities, we all know individuals who don’t fit into what is “expected” of their gender. However, without a basic profile, how do we determine if gender really matters? Take a look and see what you share…

Commonly accepted qualities of Male Leadership

  • Competitive
  • Aggressive
  • Confident
  • Dominant/One-up-one-down relationship
  • Controlling
  • Objective
  • Action-oriented
  • Hierarchical
  • Directive

Commonly accepted qualities of Female Leadership

  • Nurturing
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Empathetic
  • Flexible
  • Assertive
  • Confident
  • Team oriented
  • Communicative
  • Collaborative

So much change, not so much clarity

There have been so many changes in society in the last four decades.  I suppose you could say it was due to the the change in sexual mores, the women’s movement or what have you. Emotions are talked about more openly. All of these changes have created liberation and tension as we try to determine what is the norm now. Add the on-going struggles with the global economy and more questions arise as to what is needed most now. In the mix, concepts like sustainability, work-life balance and that work should have meaning and purpose are also affecting how leaders act and react.  Do we need leaders who use more traditional styles of leadership that borrow from the military or the industrial mindset that people are akin to machinery to get us through the uncertainty? Would it make more sense to be more nurturing and empathetic during this turbulent time?

Get rid of dichotomies…consider a holistic perspective

Dichotomies set us up for black and white thinking. This is far more limiting when we try to respond to new opportunities and crises. There is no flexibility. It either is or it isn’t. So it could be time to lay this to rest. Maybe we’re making too much of this gender thing. What do you think?

    1. Does either gender style have an advantage?
    2. What traits are best in a crisis?
    3. What traits are best in times of opportunity?
    4. What relationship is there between leadership styles and specific industries?
    5. What role does culture play in how an individual forms his/her leadership style?
    6. How would your leadership style benefit from developing qualities from either gender style?

      Please consider yourself invited to join in this conversation on the Twitter chat, #UsGuysChat on Monday, August 22nd at 3pm ET/12pm PT/8pm BST. We’d love  to have you share your thoughts on this topic.