Would you rather work for a man or woman?

menvswomenAn article from the Huffington Post (19th April 2013) suggests that “Feminine Values are the Operating Systems of the 21st century”. At MLR, this got us thinking – do men and women really have different management styles, or is this a myth?

In a review of the book “The Athena Doctrine:  How Women (and the Men who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future” (John Gerzema and Michael d’Antonio), the articles asks whether traditional macho approaches to management (dominant, strong arrogant, ambitious) are outdated, and no longer effective in the modern business world.  In other words “The Apprentice” may be entertaining but would not be a realistic model for today’s young managers.

In reality, the qualities people most respect in today’s bosses reflect characteristics more usually associated with the feminine:  good listener, reliable, team player, adaptable.

Typical Male Traits
Decisive
Focussed
Self reliant
Daring
Confident
Direct

Typical Female Traits
Flexible
Sincere
Co-operative
Sensitive
Dependable
Supportive

Perhaps, however, it is more useful to stop thinking of managerial styles (or values, approaches or characteristics) as either male or female.  It is not helpful (or respectful) to suggest that male bosses should be “more like women”, just as in the past it was not helpful or respectful to demand that a woman should “prove herself in a man’s world”.

It is time for managers and organisations first to consider, then nurture and practise those values and skillsets which are practical, effective and mutually respectful in today’s workplace:

“Where teams are most effective . . . . . we are all equal intellectually and we do operate differently, but we should embrace that, and we will end up converging towards a more collaborative way of working“ (Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management).

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