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Are Men Better Bosses than Women?
Are Men Better Bosses than Women? Which gender makes the best boss? It's a frequently asked question in the workplace. Is it men or women who are superior as boss-material? MSN Career Builder recently featured an article espousing the fact that men are better bosses. The writer's opinion and research notwithstanding, I don't actually think this is an "either-or" kind of question. It's really a question of what qualities make someone a successful boss, and even further how do we quantify success?
There are clearly differences between men and women. How they function, and how they show up through their work is simply not always the same. There are both pluses and minuses on either side. Some men are better bosses than some women, and some women are better bosses than some men.
To explore this fully, we must understand how the attributes that either gender brings to a management position plot on the workplace management map.
Women are raised to be nurturing, caring and communicative. Men are not necessarily taught to exhibit those same qualities and are certainly not rewarded for them growing up. Often, when communicating with male executives, I hear gruffly expressed comments like, "I don't like this warm, fuzzy stuff", and yet women in those same positions seem to be able to accomplish it naturally, without any effort at all. There are pros and cons to exhibiting these qualities. We live in a business landscape where a leader's show of emotions is likely to affect the way their people view their effectiveness. Often, emotional awareness is associated with weakness and ineffectiveness. Since women seem to be wired to express their emotions and men to repress theirs, it's a no-brainer that many people see men as more effective leaders than women.
Often the nurturing, caring side of women makes it difficult for them to make tough decisions or have difficult conversations. They don't want to 'hurt people' and so they soften their 'hard conversations' in order to avoid inflicting emotional pain. Often, this results in not getting the true meaning of their thoughts across. Men don't put such a high priority on taking care with feelings, and while they may not like conflict or confrontation, they don't worry about hurting others. So when they have the same sort of conversations, their attitude and language ends up being more straightforward and direct. The flip side of the coin is that men, in their lack of concern about feelings, simply state exactly what they think without in-depth discussion or exploration, often leaving the individual they've spoken to with all sorts of unresolved issues.
For men in management positions, a lack of awareness regarding the other person's feelings may mean that they miss the clues and cues that show up during communication with employees. People simply don't know how much you care until you show them. It's possible to build loyalty without the nurturing piece, but your staff may always question how much you actually care about them.
In a society where social conditioning assigns specific attributes to successful business management, many women feel like they need to act like a man to work successfully in a man's world. Since acting as someone that you are not, and cannot ever be, will undoubtedly keep women from showing up as their true selves, their business success is indisputably obstructed. Being genuine and sincere in your leadership is the foundation of business success.
Men see themselves as leaders. They are taught from a young age to think, act and be the world's leaders. Inevitably, they grow up to see themselves as leaders. So when they are placed in a leadership role it is 'more natural for them' than it is for women. This doesn't necessarily mean they are more successfully; simply that they don't work as hard at it as women have to.
The truth is that there are more men in leadership roles today than there are women. The gap is closing slowly, but it's still there. Since we are most familiar with men as leaders, it's easy for us to think that men are better leaders - certainly there are more good male leaders than good female leaders... However, it's equally true that there are more bad male leaders than bad female leaders. The simple fact is that there are simple more male leaders - good and bad. This is not proof that either gender is a better leader.
Being a good manager or boss means you set strong values for your business and live by them yourself. It means that you have respect for the people you manage, guide them without micro-managing them, build strong relationships, create a team atmosphere, and appropriately reward your people for a job is done well. So, the question isn't whether one gender is better boss-material than the other, but rather the question is what makes a successful leader, and manager.
About the Author:
Linda Finkle, CEO of Incedo Group, works closely with leaders and management to create sustainable productivity and organizational strength. She holds a Master Certified Coach designation through the International Coaching Federation. For more information on Linda and Incedo Group, please go to www.MakeSomeDamnMistakes.com
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