Integrity Matters
May 31, 2006

Pay attention to traits of women leaders

Question: (E-241)

Dear Jim:

On KSBW-TV's "Feedback @ Five" program you discussed the leadership effectiveness of women. Are you suggesting women always are better leaders than men?


No. But men do need to pay attention to what women do. For example, how do they handle stress? My observation about female leaders: When uncertain or perturbed, they keep their emotions not too disturbed. They think, act and move on.

When men run into trouble, however, they're more likely to run in circles, scream and shout. Men tend to react and later resolve.

Obviously stereotypes don't define the operating styles of all men or women. But prudence does suggest that intensity be tempered with sensitivity. Both women and men can be more effective when they understand the value of complementary styles.

The phrase "my way or the highway" sounds clever, but it communicates a destructive rigidity. Being alert to constructive criticism can save many hours of debate and months of chaos. Equally important is the awareness that comfortable working environments without leadership and management expertise can create nothing or chaos - or both.

Those who can balance the two have what I call 21st Century Leadership DNA. They combine traditional female attitudes and actions with the driving forces often attributed to their male counterparts.

To make the point, let's focus on 10 reasons why women are effective. Women more often:

  1. Think of others, often first, facilitating communication with listening.
  2. Use "we" instead of "I" - especially when describing success.
  3. Show appreciation for the work of others, easily and often.
  4. Demonstrate respect for colleagues, avoiding "ego" shows and showing off.
  5. Trust others and share credit, assuming they have admirable motives.
  6. Accept differences of opinion and approach, listening for constructive alternatives.
  7. Are willing to work outside and inside the home - producing revenue and a safe haven.
  8. Reach out and assist others graciously, keeping the team moving forward.
  9. Seek common ground, resolving and not escalating routine conflict.
  10. Keep their leadership wake smaller, not disrupting the efforts of others.
My mother said: "You don't have to yell to be heard; however, you do need to listen."

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