This was one of the ‘aha’s that came to me at the Conversations Among Masters conference in North Carolina last week. Anthony Smith, author of The Taboos of Leadership, explained that women make better leaders.
An analysis of 45 leadership studies found that the best bosses use a leadership style that is more reliant on high EQ than on high IQ. They act as inspirational mentors who encourage their staff to develop their abilities and creatively change their organizations. Women, on average, have higher EQs and are more likely than men to enact this transformational style.
But if women are such great leaders, why are there so few of them in the top echelons of corporate leadership? Only 2% of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women. Smith argues that the reason is that fewer women choose the single-focus-on-work lifestyle that top leadership requires. Women are more concerned with work-life balance as they tend to take more responsibility for their family lives. Therefore women tend to be satisfied at lower levels of management. They don’t have as much ambition and will to advance, choosing instead roles that allow for more flexibility.
In contrast, only 1% of pre-school teachers are men. Does this mean that men are not capable of doing these jobs, or just that they prefer not to?
This issue strikes a cord with me because I think society is losing the point by focusing on comparisons of how much men and women earn and how equal they are in terms of hierarchical leadership. Of course I strongly believe that women and men should be paid equally for work of equal value. I also believe that society will benefit when women have much more influence than they currently do. But wouldn’t it be more relevant to focus on how much freedom and opportunity men and women have to express themselves through their work? Men and women may one day contribute equally, but in very different ways.
Money and position power are no longer the only measures we have for success. I think using money alone as a measure of success is an inherently masculine point of view and as the feminine aspects of humanity gain more influence, we will accept more complex measures for our success. In fact this trend can already be seen in initiatives to use triple bottom line accounting.
I certainly don’t judge my own success solely by the measures of position and income. Do you?
Read more here from Anthony Smith on whether women make better leaders than men.
Here’s another article with more information on transactional versus transformational leadership.