Women in leadership
Don’t let male dominated society fool women again!
It’s been said that women don’t make good leaders because they are too compassionate or gentle. Psychology demonstrates that women do tend to be on the less aggressive side as a group when compared to men. Of course, nothing is across the board one way, there have been female pirates, freedom fighters, and let’s not forget ruthless criminals like Bonnie of “Bonnie and Clyde”. These are examples of exceptions to the rule that generally women demonstrate more compassion than men. With that said women of the past have also shown to be just as resilient and tough as and man when they choose to. Boudicca, a female Celtic leader, was one of the few leaders anywhere to lead an army to defeat a Roman Legion. Women have never lacked strength.
American history is not a story of society empowering women. Religion and other male dominated societal institutions have tried to convince women for eons that they are the weaker gender. Women have had to fight for their freedoms and right to enjoy the same experiences as men. For centuries men have controlled the government, the churches and the media. Consequently, men steered the American culture to what they wanted. Through the power of those culture creating institutions, men programmed women to believe they were weak, less intelligent, and in need of a protector. Little girls were told that their main job was to find that protector at all costs.
As this began to change and corporations rose to become the dominant places to work after WWII, American women began to enter the work force in large numbers. These mid-century corporations were dominated by war veterans. Their only understanding of leadership was war and strife. Consequently, they measured leaders and leadership to their military heroes like George Patton. There can be no mistake he was good in a fight, but he was anything but a good corporate leader. A military leader must be able to send people to their death if necessary, to gain a strategic advantage over the enemy. A corporate leader on the other hand, is charged with fiercely protecting those who they lead to ensure they can grow and develop to give the organization a strategic advantage over its competitors, annihilation is not the goal.
Through the last half of the twentieth century that “war leader” mentality continued to be offered as the ideal leader. Many Horribly misguided deeds were done to individuals and communities in the name of conquering the enemy or doing whatever it takes to get it done (competition). Women were said to be too weak and too kind to be that leader. And isn’t that a blessing! It was bad enough to have men running rampant cheating, mis-leading, lying, stealing, harassing, bullying, poising communities and committing the oldest sins in the newest of ways, all in the name of the Corporate Conquer! We definitely didn’t need women to jump on that bandwagon. If they had where would we be now? Unfortunately, to fit the culture some women did, and they were usually called out and not protected from punishment by the good ol’ boy system.
Toward the latter part of the twentieth century, women who made it to the top believed they had to be, or at least act like, a “corporate conquering man” to succeed. It usually had the opposite effect. Fortunately, most women could see that being that kind of human being was not a positive role.
Here we are seventy plus years after WWII and the mass entrance of women into the work force. Our society has thankfully evolved in some very positive ways. Views on women and their roles in society and the workforce has changed dramatically for most Americans, thankfully. When it comes to leading people women have and had always had some advantages.
First, women are often more adaptable and open to change than men, especially young men, who generally can’t learn new things because they know everything already. When circumstances arrive that challenge the status quo, men often want to fight, even physically at times. Women on the other hand, tend to be more accepting and if they choose to, they tend to resist in a more calculating and well thought out manner.
Secondly, men have always been taught that conquerors are to be revered, they forgot to add: in the right context. Many of today’s American men were raised with very masculine and aggressive heroes. From combat generals to, G.I Joe, Batman and Heman. Young boys were shown to settle disagreements physically.
Women on the other hand were taught that violence was un lady-like and taught to think instead of punch. That emotional control and use of cognitive reasoning is a major advantage to a corporate leader and many other positions. This is one major reason we see certain industries and positions where compassion, reason and understanding are a must, like nursing, teaching, etc., dominated by women.
Women can use the programmed mannerisms to their great advantage if they add the skills that the next steps to becoming a powerful influencer of people.
The reality is that our societal programming has provided women and men with traits that can support becoming a great leader and traits that can definitely be toxic and belong nowhere near a leadership position. However, there was never a time when men were naturally better at organizational leadership than women. In my opinion, that was just self-gratifying garbage a male dominated society used to justify many injustices.
As a result, some in our society look back and seek a remedy to a past that cannot be changed. Now that it is safe for women to have a voice, they seek to use that voice to attack anything and everything they have been led to believe is an affront to our current societal beliefs. Unfortunately, actions of that nature aren’t positive nor helpful. Attacking what you believe is attacking your preferred way of life is hypocritical. If you don’t want to be attacked, then attacking others is a poor example to set.
Whether you are a man or a woman is irrelevant to organizational leadership. Highly effective leaders know that leadership skills are not based on gender. Positive leadership skills come from knowledge. Yet, mannerisms do matter, and in that category, most women are ahead of their male counterparts. Women tend to be more open to change and adding new information and points of view as well. Which is another definite plus in their favor. Understanding that positively influencing people to achieve common goals for the benefit of all requires skills and learning. As does being a doctor, a physicist, a blacksmith and any other skill-based profession. As a group, women in our society have more of the positive attributes that contribute to becoming a highly effective positive influencing leader than most men in our society. If they steer clear of negative influences and societal fallacies, (like women must be tough like men or tougher because they are a woman), be themselves and obtain the skills, they already have a head start!
Start today and add the leadership and professional skills that along with your female traits will make you an extremely powerful influencing leader!