Ahh, the Stone Age old question who the better leader is. I bumped into this topic while reading “Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will do Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg. It conjured up a mile long leadership group discussion on LinkedIn once that I did not enjoy because of the many a generalization on either side of the fence. Here I thought that I could gain a lot more insight and clarity on this issue. While pondering about Mrs Sandberg’s points I occurred to me that we may just approach this from the wrong angle altogether. Why must there be a winner of the question who the better leader is? Perhaps we just should not even centrally focus on gender at all?
The most interesting point in the book was how Sheryl pointed out the ultimate no-win situations of women in leadership positions at the workplace. She was of the opinion that there is a double standard about women being assertive. In a working environment people typically almost all but expect assertiveness as a key attribute to being a great leader. While this does come in handy at times, this is not a universally and unilaterally applicable attribute of a great leader. It is certainly not the only great attribute.
The author then argued that being assertive as a woman is being viewed as negative which is related more to interpersonal skills that business acumen. People running the business and finances cannot find any fault with it because these women are typically very successful at what they are doing. So on one hand women are not being respected if they are not assertive, and on the other hand if they are assertive they are typically seen as a person no one should hang out with. That is what I would call totally unfair.
It is even more unfair trying to assess who the better leader is based on gender. The author helped explain a lot about why and what may be happening here to women in leadership roles. It offered very few ideas how to overcome the many gender based challenges across the board.
Then it occurred to me that we may have been taken the incorrect approach of looking from our thoughts and not by taken a look at the thoughts. Men and women – people – take a look at any given situation from a lot different angles. Our personal traits, behaviors, environments, and many other personal predispositions – yes, I know gender does play a role too – determine how we arrive at making decisions and if and how we implement them. Why bother with arguing about gender? Fruitless.
One of the best personal assessment tools capturing the different windows we tend to look through at the world around us is the Enneagram. It offers three main so called triads and a total of 9 main tendencies that are all interconnected. Check out the different famous people in each of the different categories and you will both find men and women. That makes so much more sense to me. The world is too complex to be dividing people into only two categories. The more the merrier. What type are you? Take the free quick test and find out your type. Who is the better leader? Anyone can be a great leader.