I’m curious about your reaction to the title. Do you find this idea exciting? Unsettling? I wonder why?
Women are better natural leaders than men. Being of the male persuasion, I know I find this unsettling. Heck, I like being a leader, and I’d like to be a good one. What, if anything, do I need to be doing differently to make sure that I remain a relevant and successful leader?
It turns out that the most important single predictor of leadership success (or failure) is the ability to care about others. Think about it a moment. If you want people to follow you, they need to believe that you care about their happiness. Otherwise, why would they follow you? For an extreme example, look at Adolf Hitler. Apparently he was as crazy as a June bug, but at the time many of the German people thought he had a plan that would return them to happy and prosperous lives after a long period of frustration.
Women are naturally better at caring about others than we men are. They are socialized from birth to nurture babies, family, and friends, and they learn to be expert at building collaborative relationships (teamwork anyone?). Meanwhile we men are being socialized to compete with each other in a perpetual dominance struggle to be the “Alpha male.” I haven’t literally seen one of my business associates relieve himself on a tree to mark his territory recently, but not too far from it.
As women become ever more assertive in taking leadership positions, this difference between men and women is going to become ever more obvious in achieving business results. So what’s your takeaway? You need to be good with people to be a successful leader. This probably sounds like the biggest “Duh!” you’ve ever heard, but I spend a huge portion of my executive coaching time helping leaders develop their people skills.
My view is that, at it’s core, business is about people and about relationships, whether they are face-to-face or virtual. Somebody’s got to buy your product or service (your customers), and somebody’s got to help you get that product or service to those folks (your team), so you don’t want to be shooting yourself in the foot chronically by aggravating them instead of winning them over.
You can try the Hitler approach and see if you can dominate everybody into doing what you want, but history has shown us repeatedly that the Adolph Hitler School of Leadership is not a good investment for sustained success in business…
Techniques for Success
Technique #1: Don’t mistake caring for others/nurturing as a weakness–it’s anything but. Learn from the ladies and do what works.
Technique #2: Start with you. Are you caring about yourself in a way that guarantees happiness and success?
Technique #3: Maintain a healthy balance between caring about yourself and caring about others–this is called “assertiveness.”