Are Women Leaders More Nurturing? [Infographic]
Interesting insights from a fun leadership quiz, about how similar and different male and female leaders are as they rise through the leadership ranks.
In a Nutshell
The most effective leaders drive results and nurture their staff at the same time
Because of workplace expectations, women face the need to be more relationally competent
Gender balance should not be about numbers but rather, a culture of safety and inclusion
The Boss Type Test, a fun leadership quiz, has yielded some insightful results on how men and women in leadership can be very similar, and very different, as they rise in leadership rank.
The quiz surveyed over 400 different leaders, providing a general glimpse into their leadership tendencies in terms of relational competence factors.
What is relational competence?
Relational competence is the ability to balance two sides of being a leader: caring and challenging.
The most effective leaders drive results and nurture their staff at the same time.
How do male and female leaders fare in terms of being able to care and challenge? Are women really more nurturing than men?
Here’s what the Boss Type Test reveals:
Both male and female leaders at this level tend to be more agreeable. At this stage in their careers, new managers are building their credibility and influence.
As middle managers, women find their balance in terms of pushing for results and being caring. Men decrease in their ability to balance and start to flex their authority and challenge more.
Both men and women, as senior leaders, become more results oriented. They show greater responsibility and ownership because of their roles. However women’s results orientation is at its highest.
Perhaps as minorities in a male dominated table, women feel added pressure to perform. Meanwhile, men are better able to balance being both tough and nurturing.
Are females more nurturing?
The answer is not straightforward.
Women suppress or enhance certain qualities, based on what they perceive is desirable or accepted.
The results of the quiz are not far off from current trends in today’s culture.
Society and culture put extra pressure on women to behave according to expectations, and as a result, women suppress or enhance certain qualities, based on what they perceive is desirable or accepted.
Research shows that women are forced to behave unnaturally in order to succeed in leadership. Female leaders, much more than their male counterparts, face the need to be warm and nice (what society traditionally expects from women), as well as competent or tough (what society traditionally expects from men and leaders).
In How Women Manage the Gendered Norms of Leadership (Harvard Business Review), Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, shares her experience of being perceived as either “too soft or too hard.”
The need for women to be relationally competent is higher.
Because of the expectations placed on female leaders, when women behave as either too soft or too hard, they receive more disapproval than their male counterparts who behave similarly.
The need for women to be relationally competent is then higher.
The value of diversity is not in compliance
"There is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance in a magnitude that is not small." - BUSINESS INSIDER
Numerous studies show that gender mixed organisations, boards and leadership teams outperform those that are less gender balanced. The business case for better gender balance is clear.
In Companies with Women in Leadership Roles Crush the Competition, Business Insider shares that “the study on gender diversity by Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Barbara Kotschwar for the Peterson Institute for International Economics released earlier this year says there is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance ‘in a magnitude that is not small.’”
Organisations know there is much value in diversity but it is the value of each individual in the mix that we should be after, not meeting a certain criteria.
“Tokenism” happens when a person of a certain ethnicity is given a senior position for the purpose of creating diversity.
“The uncomfortable truth is that diversity without inclusion may be perceived as “tokenism” which can ignite a negative boomerang effect on the most well intentioned organizations.” - FORBES
A culture of safety and inclusion is what makes diversity work
It is about creating a culture where the differences in gender leadership styles are not punished, but welcomed.
Gender diversity in itself is not the answer or reason for improved performance. It is the culture of inclusion and safety that allows this diversity to bloom and flourish. Without this culture, diversity will be about compliance and may lead to undesired results.
The goal of gender diversity is not simply equal representation. It is about creating a culture where the differences in gender leadership styles are not punished, but welcomed.
Both men and women bring their leadership strengths, experience, and unique skills and abilities to the team. They are valued and honoured for who they are, not because they are male or female.
At the heart of it, a culture of safety and inclusion is about valuing and honouring the individual. Only then can diversity add value to teams and organisations.