Think and act like a leader – aka: managerial skills don’t have gender

Women are taught “male” leadership as well at the business world, but as soon as they start acting according to what they studied, they are called the “B” word. Its softer translation is bossy.

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Studies are coming to light almost every single day proving that a woman can have just as great leadership skills as a man has, but still. The further we go up on the ladder the lesser women we find in those positions. Why is that so? What are those virtues that we celebrate in men but punish in women? Are there any skills that actually men should take on from women?

The world today needs good leaders who are aware of their masculine and feminine sides regardless to their gender and know how to benefit from those competencies that are – in an orthodox approach – linked to a certain gender. The following short list shows how competencies could be used well:

  • Tangible vision or in other words: clear goals. A good leader must be able to communicate clearly where the company is heading to, and how it supposed to reach that goal. Some foggy concept, like “being the fastest, largest, most reputable” company in the field, just won’t make it. If tasks are not delegated thoughtfully but keeping the collaboration, if others are not focused on what they supposed to achieve, if the big picture is not visible together with the details, if the long-term impact of a decision is unclear, than the control can slip out of hands easily. Direct but firm communication of expectations or more like persuasion is a great tool in a manager’s hand.
  • Self-sacrifice: They are being achievement driven, setting high standards for themselves, striving to accomplish unusual challenges. In order to do that they keep managing their progression, pro-active about getting developmental experiences and ready to listen to feedbacks from their mentors and sponsors who could help them in their career growth. They take personal responsibility for their consequences of their decisions, and take ownership of their mistakes. They are ready to sacrifice their numbers rather than their team.
  • They listen – for real: They know when to take the time and energy to talk to their employees in person that could help to build stronger relationships. They know all of their employees’ strengths and match them with tasks and challenges according to the company needs. They can create a company atmosphere of excitement, engendering a sense of belonging and loyalty. They possess the ability of effective listening: they not just hear what the other person says, but understands the intentions and takes into consideration the speaker’s circumstances as well. They are aiming to produce an overall positive impact on the whole society. They are not afraid of listening to their intuition and act accordingly neither.
  • Empathy: They respect and care for others, build rapport and establish common ground. They don’t take themselves too seriously and understand the language of humor. They are approachable and trustworthy. They are known about their high emotional intelligence and their wide skill-set of assertiveness. They have strong belief in their own capability and help their team members to build up their own self confidence. They motivate, train and help others in their self-development.

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Although the Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede’s work in the 1960’ and 70’ at IBM was focusing on cross-cultural communication showing the effects of a society’s culture on its members, their values and behavior, his study slightly touched on gender issues as well. One of the dimension he examined is the masculinity or femininity of a society and it refers to the distribution of values between the genders.

Hoftstede’s definitions:

“Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”
“Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.” (From Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed.  p 297.)

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The young and talented Sales Manager at Turul Winery, Rebecca Saber is a good example of that manager who thinks that emphasizing her masculine side is the only way to ensure her colleagues about her own leadership competencies.

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(This entry is made by Judit Nuszpl)

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