Do women lead differently than men? It seems the answer is “yes.” Survey results show men and women tend to agree on the exact behaviors that reveal the differences for women leaders and men leaders. Let’s look at the facts:
97% of women and 79% of men believe men and women focus their behavior differently as leaders … specifically (1) Women believe men lead by “promoting themselves and their abilities.”; and (2) Men believe women focus on “seeking input from all concerned sources” and are found to be more empathic and flexible and to have stronger interpersonal skills than their male colleagues.
In other words, leadership behaviors between the sexes differ by: (a) women concentrate on relationships with others by seeking input, organizing, and managing a team; while (b) men hone in on the final outcome and promoting their professional abilities.
So what are the skills and behaviors women in leadership should direct their developmental efforts? Let’s begin with setting and completing goals. According to a 2009 survey conducted by The Executive Leadership Council… women, specifically women of color, “should seek high-visibility stretch assignments to improve their access to senior management and C-Suite positions.”
Seeking challenging assignments will provide the opportunities to practice skills and cultivate character-driven behaviors required to reach success. Women are most likely to find these opportunities for real-time practice in the challenges in their current job or in new assignments sought out in community. Consequentially, challenging assignments provides learning by doing, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and trying it again. Lastly, challenging assignments can motivate women to improve. If you don’t improve the skills and character-driven behaviors you’ve targeted, you’ll likely not do well in the assignment. It will be obvious to you and others that you aren’t reaching your leadership development goals.
I encourage women to stretch themselves in developing their leadership skills, if climbing the corporate ladder or being a community advocate is their desire.
Stay tuned for the next post: Women vs Men: Do Women Lead Differently than Men? – 2.
© 2010 Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A. All rights reserved.
Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A., Leadership Development Strategist, consults and coaches senior and executive women in leadership to climb their ladders of success and achieve a quality work/life balance by conquering challenges and breakingthrough barriers. Check out her BLOG: Leadership Notes at http://karlyndhenderson.com and follower her twitter@HendersonKarlyn.