Capability And Not Gender Determines Leadership
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Do men make better leaders than women ? Or do women make better leaders than men? I honestly think the question itself is flawed.
However, I do know one thing – capability, ability and the right attitude, does not favour any gender.
Unfortunately, I have often seen people grimace when they are told they would be reporting to a woman. And the saddest part is that it is not a man who does this but it is women who balk at the prospect of reporting into another woman. What I also know is that Women in leadership roles have a harder time than men, of being accepted by their counterparts, their peers and yes by their team too. This is very subtle. The traits that a man may exhibit in the same position is looked upon favorably and in a positive light as opposed to a woman exhibiting the same behavioral traits at work.
When a woman is forthright and assertive, she is considered aggressive/ ballistic while a man in the same situation is considered a go-getter and tough. And it just gets progressively worse. A woman’s personal life especially her marital status/age is the cynosure of all eyes in the corporate world and is often served as an explanation for her actions/traits at work. Grey hair and children are the two acquisitions that beget her respect at work and work could be any domain, any field – right from the corporate sector, to politics. This is so subtle at times that usually people are not even aware of how they regard the other. Such is our upbringing and societal conditioning.
Inculcating the right values is easier said than done but it has to be done. Mindfully and resolutely.
At work – Equality is not just lip service. It requires understanding, doing and demonstrating. Ensure that every individual is seen as an individual, a human being and not stereotyped by their gender. Respect the chair the person sits on. The focus should be on this and people should not preoccupy themselves with the completely irrelevant (with respect to work) details of the female leader divorced/Single/old/young etc. The people doing this could be her boss, her peers, colleagues, or her team. This happens. I have seen this take place.
Capability and ability is not the prerogative of just men. Conversely, incapability, inability, irrationality and other ‘popular’ negative traits do not belong exclusively to women. Any quality or its lack is an individual thing and is not the copyright of a particular gender. Men and more critically women need to realize and understand this, completely. Women in and across organizations would be a lot better professionally if they regarded each other and consequently themselves with respect and positivity. In attributing their own kind with negative character traits, they do a great disservice to their own selves.
Organizations which inculcate a culture focused solely on growth, productivity and right values will see efficiency and productivity grow and sustain. This is an absolute must. I can’t reiterate this enough.
More importantly, it all starts at home - bring up the girl and boy child on an equal plane. Housework is not only the daughter’s domain. Bring up your children to be self-reliant, so train and teach both your son and daughter to cook and clean. (Merely giving them good education is not enough) This will establish parity, a very powerful conditioning which will slowly and surely wipe away gender biases across all walks of life.
Culture is nothing but a collection of beliefs and resultant behaviour. Value based leadership will have at it’s core, positivity and empowerment which is intrinsically and inherently gender neutral. To sum it up, values, not gender determine leadership.