Are Women Better Leaders Than Men? A Question You Should Never Ask

Greetings Leaders!

I belong to a leadership group on Linked In where this question was asked: “Are Women Leaders Better Than Men? The discussion generated over 1,000 comments, so obviously it is something many people have an interest in. My take? In my humble opinion, unless you are trying to sell books or fund a research project, this question is a waste of time.

Can anyone please tell me how this question can realistically be answered? I am so tired of media hype about the differences between boys and girls, men and women. Yes we’re different. I also understand that women leaders are under represented in our workforce. No argument there. But, if you really understand what leadership is about, you will realize that questions like this are poised, so that someone can sell a book or a theory. In reality, it is a complete waste of time.

If an organization hires someone to a position of leadership based on just their sex, I would wager a month’s salary that the organization is dysfunctional. Why? Because when it comes down to actually hiring a leader, there are just too many variables that come into play and if you place a bet on someones success just based on gender, you might just as well put names in a hat and hire the first one you pull out.

One cannot accurately predict someone’s leadership qualities based on gender, age, religion, height, weight, color or any other physical trait I can think of. What about hair color or eye color? Nope. How about the length of their hair or the shape of their nose? Nope.

If you are looking at what is best for an organization, you end up in the same place. It all depends on what the organization is trying to accomplish, the culture it has to deal with and other things like its location, structure and status as either a public or private company. You cannot with any accuracy or credibility, say that an organization should hire more women or men leaders, except if you are trying to ensure diversity. That is a separate question altogether.

There are good men leaders and bad. There are good women leaders and bad. A good leader may be a bad leader if put in a different situation. There is really no point to this question, except to sell books.

Don’t hire based on gender!
JT

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One thought on “Are Women Better Leaders Than Men? A Question You Should Never Ask”

  1. Ok…

    Before you enter a post here, just let me say that I already received some comments about this and need to say that I may have overstated my position. After some reflection, the question may be worth asking at the appropriate time and place. For example, if you are in an organization or culture that thinks men and women DO have distinct leadership qualities and are basing decisions on this, then… it is a question worth asking, if only to prove to them that what really counts is hiring the best “person” for the job. I was under the impression that what is obvious to me, that in general terms both men and women can be good leaders, is obvious to everyone else. I was a bit naive in that assumption and it appears that asking this question is the only way to bring about true equality.

    All the best!
    John

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