DO WOMEN MAKE BETTER MANAGERS ?
November 22, 2010 3 Comments
I was recently asked during a press interview to describe the best boss that I had ever worked for.
It wasn’t hard to do, as during my time at Sun Microsystems, when asked to drive a global project for 6 months in the US, I had the opportunity to work for one of the most impressive executives that I have met in the last 45 years.
The fact that she was a woman, and her having moved on to greater roles over the last 20 years despite a serious bout with illness, made me wonder whether women actually make better managers than do men.
Christine Lagarde, French Finance Minister and someone tipped as a potential future Prime Minister, and one of the few really impressive politicians that I have met (see « Vive l’European Parliament » posted 20/09/2010), believes that women make better policians than men « … because they are not slaves to their libidos », which she believes made them « … more able to make more cool-headed judgements ». She told the US Network ABC « This Week » programme on October 11, 2010 that « … men’s sex drive, testosterone and egos impaired their decision making ability ».
If this is true, and I have a lot of admiration for Lagarde and not much for most politicians I have met, who did tend to be male, does the same hold true for management roles ? And if it is true, why are there not more women in senior management positions ?
In the Top 300 European companies women make up only about 12% of board members (up from 10% in 2008), although Norway at 38% does skew the results somewhat. The latest Catalyst figures show that women only make up 11% of Fortune 1000 company board members, and that 25% of the Fortune 1000 still have no female board members at all.
Professor Khalid Aziz, CEO of Aziz Corporation, a leadership development « maven » believes that women managers have a « … less short term outlook and are more holistic, big picture and reasonable ».
He lists his top-10 reasons why women make better bosses than men :
1. In a still sexist world, women have to be better than men to succeed.
2. Women tend to be less « bullet-headed » than men and prefer to understand the big picture before proceeding.
3. More adaptable to the needs to change
4. More willing to see other people’s point of view
5. Less bloody minded in conflict.
6. More holistic people managers, understanding the different influences on staff.
7. More willing to admit mistakes.
8. Better at collaboration.
9. More open to seeing their own failings.
10. Better team players.
I once asked a male CEO why there were no women on his board, and he told me that he would love to have some women on the board, but hadn’t been able to find any that were suitable. I therefore asked him what were the backgrounds and qualities that he was looking for in a female board member, and he listed a long string of qualities that most of his current male board members didn’t actually have.
I guess that he just wasn’t really looking hard enough.