Gender and Leadership

I recently attended a graduation ceremony for a Women’s Leadership Program, one of my supervisees was graduating and invited me. It was a wonderful ceremony with passionate speakers chosen from a group of women who will have a strong influence on their organizations and communities. I could just leave it at that, but there was a bit of a tone throughout the ceremony insinuating that female leaders are good and well… male leaders aren’t so good.

The same day as the graduation ceremony I attended a men’s breakfast at my church. The theme, not unlike the Women’s Leadership Program, was about how we, as men, live up to being positive leaders in our places of work and communities. We watched an interview with Tony Dungy, a highly respected NFL Super Bowl winning coach and author. He was a leader who went against the grain of traditional in-your-face coaching and led his teams using respect and high expectations. I have heard Coach Dungy speak before and he has been critical of leaders, often men, who have utilized tear-them-down-and-scare-them tactics to push performance.

Two events on one day, one about Women as leaders and the other about Men as leaders and what did they have in common? That character counts. The kind of person a leader is, regardless of genitalia or pigmentation, is what really matters—are they open and honest, respectful, behave with integrity, set high expectations for self and others and do they hold themselves and those they lead accountable for their actions?

I have had many bosses with about an equal number of male and female. My experience has been that what made them good or bad bosses had little to do with their gender, sexual orientation, heritage, or religion. My current boss, whom I highly respect, leads with character, listens well and holds herself and others accountable. She is a very good leader as were my other bosses who led in the same fashion.

Is poor leadership an over-extension of stereotypical male characteristics like highly competitive, unemotional, single minded, demanding, controlling, to name a few. In some ways the answer to this is yes, but I have had both male and female bosses who have used such behaviors as leaders. Some were financially successful, though over the long haul were not good leaders—after initial short term gains in productivity those bosses often left for other jobs leaving their former employers dealing with turnover, internal battles, increased expenses and drop-offs in productivity.

Male or female, good character is an essential quality of leaders who build and grow organizations and communities to be successful over the long haul. As you develop yourself as a leader or look to grow leaders in your organization give The Village Business Institute a call—our professionals can assist you and your organization in developing leaders of character, regardless of their gender.

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