Money & Careers

On the Bright Side: Are Women Better Leaders than Men?

fordCecilia Ford, who has been a psychologist in private practice in New York City since 1987, has addressed emotional issues for Women’s Voices in many articles over the years.

 

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It used to be okay—or at least, not politically incorrect—for men to say that a female president might be dangerous because her “hormonal imbalances” could lead to moodiness . . . and possibly even bellicose behavior. Now that we have the distinct possibility of a female president’s becoming a reality, most men have learned to keep their mouths shut if they still hold this opinion. And it turns out that women may even have particular skills that men lack—skills that make them good leaders.

By almost every measure, for example, women are generally more sensitive to emotional cues than men. When it comes to managing and motivating others, this skill is crucial. “Emotional intelligence” makes one more likely to read a situation correctly and come up with a solution that effectively takes others into account. Most productive work depends on teamwork some, if not most, of the time.

Women are also more likely to surround themselves with a supportive cohort—in all spheres of their lives. In the workplace this means not only leading but having strong and trusting relationships, and allowing yourself to be mentored and advised. One can easily see how a leader who is isolated or surrounded by yes-men is in danger of poor decision-making. For example, Abraham Lincoln, a president known for his emotional sensitivity, was a more effective leader because of his willingness to surround himself with thoughtful advisers—even some from the opposing party—and taking their counsel into consideration.

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