There is a big potential interest in making sure that more women hold positions of leadership in order to reverse their underrepresentation in positions of power, but far too many offered solutions are based on the assumption that women should aspire to be like men. This school of thought contends that since women hold the majority of top positions, men ought to aspire to be like them.
However, this reasoning falls short of explaining the generally poor performance of the majority of leaders, who are largely male. As we have said in the past, there are more overconfident, egotistical, and dishonest people in positions of authority because there aren’t enough barriers for inept males, which is the true issue.
As a result, gender disparities in leadership emerge out of line with gender disparities in leadership effectiveness – what it takes to function well and what it takes to make it to the top. In fact, data demonstrates that the majority of top leaders in organisations are males, not because men are naturally better leaders. Instead, much quantitative research—including meta-analyses—shows that there are either no gender differences in leadership ability or that they actually benefit women.
In light of this, it makes more sense to reverse the suggested solution: rather than encouraging women to act like male leaders (many of whom are ineffective), we should be urging men in positions of authority to adopt some of the more effective leadership behaviours more frequently associated with women. As a result, better role models would emerge, opening doors for both capable men and women to advance.
Lessons in Leadership for Men
Promote individuals into leadership positions when they are capable
The average woman can help most men learn the following important leadership skills:
When there is nothing to lean on, don’t do it
Telling women to “lean on” to traits like assertiveness, aggression, or confidence has become popular. Such traits might appear in men as aggressive behaviour, taking credit for others’ accomplishments, and self-promotion. It would be wiser to stop falling for people who lean on when they don’t have the skills to back it up, as there has never been a strong correlation between leaning in and being successful at something, especially for guys. In a rational society, we would promote individuals into leadership positions when they are capable rather than self-assured, screening them for their knowledge, track record, and pertinent leadership abilities (e.g., intelligence, curiosity, empathy, integrity, and coachability). Keep in mind that science-based tests are considerably superior to traditional job interviews for evaluating all of these qualities.
Recognize your own restrictions
The only cause for having no self-doubt or insecurities at all is delusion.
Though self-belief is celebrated in our society, self-awareness is far more significant. They frequently contradict each other. For example, having extreme degrees of self-belief is incompatible with being aware of your limitations (flaws and weaknesses), and the only cause for having no self-doubt or insecurities at all is delusion. Studies reveal that women are often less overconfident than men, even if they are not as insecure as they are often made out to be in self-help literature and much of the popular media. This is good news since it provides them the ability to perceive themselves as others do and to identify differences between their goals and reality. The ability to prepare, even if it means overpreparing, is better for those who view themselves more critically than others do. This is a reliable strategy to improve competence and performance.
Women are more likely than men to inspire others
According to academic research, women are more likely than men to inspire others, change people’s attitudes and ideas, and connect individuals with meaning and purpose (as opposed to using rewards and punishments). It is crucial to develop transformational leadership since it is associated with higher levels of team engagement, productivity, and performance. Men would be better leaders if they spent more time attempting to win people’s hearts and souls, led with both EQ and IQ rather than relying more on the latter, and encouraged a shift in beliefs as opposed to behaviours.
Prioritise your community over yourself
When you’re only thinking about yourself, it’s incredibly challenging to develop a bunch of individuals into a high-performing team.
When you’re only thinking about yourself, it’s incredibly challenging to develop a bunch of individuals into a high-performing team. People who view leadership as a glorified career goal and personal achievement are too self-absorbed to promote the welfare of their teams and maximise the potential of their subordinates. Imagine someone who only wants to be a leader if it means they can get a greater salary, the corner office, a more senior position, or any other type of prestige. Since their primary objective is to increase their own prosperity, it is obvious that they will be less motivated to improve the lives of others. Men are more likely to lead in a narcissistic and selfish fashion than women since they are often more self-focused than women. The typical male leader would do well to embrace a less egotistical style of leadership if they wish to increase their effectiveness.
Empathise rather than order
Men can gain a lot of insight about how to empathise successfully by observing and imitating women.
Women have consistently been told they are too compassionate and kind to be in positions of leadership, but the idea that someone who is not compassionate and kind cannot lead well is at odds with reality. We don’t live in the Middle Ages anymore. The only plausible justification for expecting leaders to resist automation in the twenty-first century is the requirement that they develop an emotional bond with their followers. While AI will indeed take over the technical and hard-skill components of leadership, as long as there are still humans in the workforce, they will still hunger for the affirmation, admiration, and empathy that only people, not robots, can offer. Men can gain a lot of insight about how to do this successfully by observing and imitating women.
Concentrate on uplifting people
It has been demonstrated that female leaders are more likely than male leaders to train, mentor, and develop their direct reports. They are real talent brokers who use direction and feedback to foster personal growth. This entails treating employees less transactionally and more strategically, as well as being willing to hire people who are more qualified than they are because their egos are less likely to get in the way. They are then able to maximise the potential of others and foster productive teamwork. While humans tend to favour self-centred and self-focused leaders, it is unlikely that they can develop a group of individuals into a high-performing team.
Never claim to be “humbled”
Be modest. Since around 20 years, we have urged for humble leadership, yet we continue to favour those who are arrogant and narcissistic (generally not female). There are clear advantages for women in overcoming gender disparities in humility. Of course, not all women are humble, but choosing leaders based on humility would lead to more female leaders than male leaders. Fundamentally, being humble is a feminine quality. Being an effective leader depends on it as well. Without humility, it will be exceedingly difficult for someone in a position of authority to admit their errors, draw lessons from them, consider the viewpoints of others, and be open to improvement. Perhaps the problem is not that men are unable or unwilling to show leadership, but rather that we reject them from positions of authority when they do. This needs to change since humility is a vital component of good leadership in both men and women.