On Women In Leadership

women in leadership, mother's day

Arthur Schopenhauer said: “Ours is not to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what no one has yet thought about that which everyone sees.”

So here’s a thought beyond the obvious: I think women are naturally better leaders than men. The reason is simple: women historically live longer then men. Now bear with me here, I realize longevity has little to do with leadership – on the surface – but then again, isn’t that Schopenhauer’s point?

I recently learned that there is a specific reason why women typically live longer then men. It’s not physiological. Our bodies are designed the same, so technically they should last and wear out at the same rate. It even turns out that danger has little to do with it. While there is some truth that men historically hold more dangerous jobs — hunter, firefighter, radio tower lightbulb repairman — the study I heard factored in accidental death.  Dietary habits do play a role; my wife will sometimes go for the salad while I order the burger and fries, but overall those factors don’t really explain the reason women live historically longer. But, I contend, the reason they do is the very reason they make better leaders.

The answer, according to this study, is that women are more likely to ask for help. Historically speaking, this study notes, men die earlier because they take longer to go to the doctor and get help for serious illness. Consequently, men are more likely to pass the point of no return for recovery. Women, on the other hand, are more in tune with their bodies and are more likely to seek help before it’s too late.

What a FABULOUS leadership trait.  

It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? What we are starting to see is the very things women were criticized for as ‘weak’ leaders — emotional, touch-feely, soft, slower to make a decision, ‘too’ collaborative — are turning out be the most effective qualities of a rock-star leader. In the “body” of our organizations, women are more likely to notice an issue before men. They will inquire, seek help, and are less likely to think they have to have all the answers. As a result, they consult additional experts, build collaborative teams, stress communication, are willing to be vulnerable, to let other people shine and to build collaborative coalitions. Old school leadership — intimidation, power grabs, aggression and uninformed snap decisions — has been the norm in leadership for far too long, but those traits aren’t leadership, they’re arrogance. “Because I’m the boss” is not a good leadership mantra.  We’ve all been led by people in positions of power who have demonstrated epic failures in real leadership, so we all know power isn’t leadership. If you want your organization to live longer and healthier, you could do worse than putting in more women leaders. No seriously, you could do worse — you could die sooner and be unhealthy longer. Who wants that?!

Just a thought.  How do you see it?