Do women have different leadership qualities than men?



Many men and women combine both, male and female leadership qualities, the male archetype is domineering in most cultures and seems to prove less and less sufficient for solving our modern day challenges. Has the time come to create a new leadership model and what would that model look like?

'It’s time for the women to gather.' said Dr. Margaret Wheatley writer, organizational consultant and president emeritus of The Berkana Institute, a global charitable leadership foundation. “It’s time for the women to save the world. It’s as serious as that.” With those words, Wheatley opened her keynote at the Women’s Leadership Institute held at Mount Mary College WI in October.

'It’s a time when women’s leadership is the last hope. We have to pull ourselves out of this mess.' The world’s future depends upon us claiming the leadership that we know works.

One sign of problems is that we’re not taking care of our children, nor of the women who are their caretakers. 'We’re not paying attention to our children and our mothers,' noted Wheatley. 'What species is so stupid as not to care about its children?'

Everyone is so focused on his/her own issues that no one is paying attention to what’s actually going on in the world. The longer that fear and busyness distract us, the faster we come to extinguishing ourselves. 'There’s no more time left.' she said. 'We cannot continue to work in the way we’re going and expect any future whatsoever.'

Command and control leadership assumes you can tell people what to do and they’ll do it. 'Everything alive reacts, but never obeys,' said Wheatley. 'But this leadership model pretends it isn’t so.' When used in high-risk situations, the command/control model prevents higher-ordered thinking that would ultimately lower the risk.

When threatened with a crisis, the traditional response is fight or flight. But women faculty at UCLA noticed something different:

Whenever some type of crisis hit the department, the male faculty hid in their offices while the women gathered in the kitchen.

So the women's faculty looked for studies to explain this phenomenon. What they discovered was that during a crisis, women didn’t actually fight or flee, but instead gathered together to take care of the children.

If the male model is command and control, the female model can be described as "tend and befriend".'

In my opinion Margaret Wheatley’s observations are very valid.

We need to create leadership models that are all inclusive. Models that help us keep in mind how much everything and everyone is interconnected. We need to invite people to contribute, to get involved and share their ideas and solutions with us. We need to foster trust and a environment that invites people to speak up.

We need to develop models that are not based on wanting to control because of our fear of uncertainty, but that thrive on the fact that as leaders we don’t have all the answers.

Every aspect of living, working and leading revolves around relationships; no one exists independently of his/her relationships. And to truly be in a relationship involves becoming comfortable with confusion, uncertainty and insecurity.

As long as we want to control outcomes and people relationship cannot truly develop.


With my best wishes for your success,

Christiane Pohl

Life & Leadership Coach

Author:. Christiane specialises in coaching Executives and their teams with managing change, achieving their objectives and developing their soft skills for lasting success.She is an EMCC accredited Leadership Coach & Mentor with a professional background of over 25 years experience as Senior Manager in internat... Go Deeper | Website

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