Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Do We End the Gender Gap?

Every day you can find a new article or interview questioning whether a man or a woman makes a better leader. At the end of the article, all that is left is one more dagger for a person to throw at the opposite sex.

The discussion of who is better is a definite way to waste a person’s brain cells. The truth is that not all
men are committed to being a leader. Therefore, not all men make good leaders. The same exact philosophy goes for women. Those who are committed to being a good manager will take the necessary steps to develop themselves as a leader and those who don’t will play a different role in an organization. It is not a crime to not want to be a leader.

The hype that is created about who is better only feeds the flame of animosity and victimhood. And a very powerful former CEO of a Fortune 500 once told me that victims never get to have fun. For that matter, neither do those who hold animosity.

If the instigators, disguised as so-called experts about gender issues disappeared, men and women would have to learn to cooperate together. Leaders would rise within a group or organization. Those with the highest commitment to lead would create situations, find mentors or programs that make them better at leadership – the ability to execute a vision through others.

The best leaders are not the smartest person in the group. In fact, if they are, they do not put it in your face. Yet, there are many people screaming that they deserve to be a leader on the basis of being smarter than others. While it may be true you are smarter, this does not mean you work well with others, nor does it mean you can inspire others to accomplish great tasks. This dilemma has nothing to do with gender. Both men and women have a tendency to want to prove their intelligence at the expense of others. This is the exact behavior that demoralizes teams and organizations, unless you are highly skilled at communicating tough conversations and difficult ideals. It could be said that Steve Jobs was gifted in this way. 

With that said, others believe that leadership is a popularity contest. They operate with the philosophy that they have to get people to like them in order to induce others to follow them. This failed approach is also not a result of gender.

The best managers are respected for their stand. People tend to follow them because they are consistent, decisive and firm in their direction. They are capable of tough conversations and they create stretch goals that serve as development opportunities. This often means people are not always happy while working with them. However, the leader does not lose his focus and he is not distracted by the desire to make people like him nor is she out to prove that she is the smartest. In the face of difficulty, they still inspire you. 

If there is a gap, there are two. One is the belief that men and women should compete for who’s the best. A better way to look at men and women is to acknowledge that we complement one another. Neither is more important than the other. The second gap is development. Leadership belongs to those who desire it most. The best leaders will always rise in the crowd because they have taken the initiative to develop themselves. If you view management in the same way you view the arts or sports, you will see that it takes a certain mindset and a lot of practice. Those who refuse to follow the development path eventually fall into the famous Weissman Principle.  

What steps have you taken to develop yourself today?   

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 

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