I recently read an article on careerbuilder.com titled “5 Reasons Women Make Better Leaders.” The article stated that “women are better with the soft skills of management, like listening and communicating, while men excel at the hard skills such as analysis and decision-making.” Being a woman who holds a senior position at a firm specializing in communications, I had to chuckle (okay, laugh out loud). Do I have the “soft skills of management”? Perhaps. Are my male counterparts better at decision-making? Umm, no.
While I appreciate what the article is saying (and I do “get” there are differences between men and women), I have to wonder how anyone could survive as a consultant without the ability to analyze situations and make decisions? So, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the five reasons listed in the article and apply them to anyone leading a group of communicators, regardless of whether the leader is male or female.
The article says: “Women are good at encouraging participation and facilitating groups.”
Stacy’s comments: True. But I have to give my male counterparts credit here. If you are a leader at an agency, you’d better be able to lead and motivate your teams. Your success – and the success of your clients – depends on it.
The article says: “Women are more likely than men to utilize facilitative leadership, a style that enables and encourages others (Porat, 1991). Facilitative leaders empower and motivate people rather than lead by reward and punishment.”
Stacy’s comments: Again, true. This skill is paramount for any leader, especially at a communications firm. I find empowering your team not only motivates your team, but also creates an environment of learning and professional growth.
The article says: “Women working in education were found to use a more open communication style that came from their focus on relationships. As a result, they communicated more frequently than men with their colleagues, stakeholders and subordinates (Connor, 1992). In the business world, open communication encourages feedback and sharing of information and power.”
Stacy’s comments: We are communications consultants. If you can’t communicate effectively, find a different job.
The article says: “Women are talented collaborators and support contributive, consensual decision-making (Porat, 1991). Team members appreciate knowing their contributions are valued.”
Stacy’s comments: This seems to be an important attribute for any leader, especially when you are rallying a group of communicators. An effective leader of a communications program will listen to clients, company executives, press, analysts and customers to make recommendations, and ultimately decisions, that make an impact to the overall program.
Almost Everything Else
The article says: “But women’s strengths are not limited to these skills alone. Of the six studies, five indicated that female bosses scored higher than men on a majority of leadership skills measured. In the sixth study, men and women ranked evenly.”
Stacy’s comments: Almost everything else?
— Stacy Libby