Tony Schwartz recenty wrote an HBR blog post titled “What Women Know about Leadership that Men Don’t” http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2012/10/what-women-know-that-men-dont.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date In it, he called for something so clearly right from both men and women leaders – empathetic leadership. The comments to the post were especially fascinating because so many of us are embarassed, angry, or discouraged by the mere 14% of women in senior executive positions in the Fortune 500.
The derth of women in leadership is both a symptom of the underlying issue and a cause. The systems which are designed to drive performance, particularly quarterly results vital to public companies, create deficits in organizational empathy. These deficits drive out many people who want to be whole, disproportionately women who more often (and biologically) feel the need to be whole while raising children. Ironically, it’s when we have kids that we really learn what it means “to recognize, experience and be sensitive to what others are feeling” (i.e., empathize). This vicious cycle leads to even greater deficits of empathy.
Let me be very clear that I do not believe women are better leaders than men or vice versa, but that leaders – male and female – who steward the curency of empathy along with performance are the ideal. Furthermore, doing so is good for retention of women or anyone who wants to be whole.
Thanks to Molly Walsh for sharing Tony’s post.