I’ve written a series of blogs focusing on the urgency of addressing gender diversity in new and customized ways, pointing out that approaches currently used are unlikely to break the glass ceiling http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/27/developing-women-is-risky-business/ http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/28/women-in-waiting/ http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/29/designing-for-women/. I’ve also explained the value of diversity from a business standpoint http://stangercarlson.com/2013/07/24/unlocking-diversity/. Now along comes an HBR blog piece that is highly critical of men as leaders http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/08/why_do_so_many_incompetent_men.html. It argues strongly that the macho bluster that gets men noticed and tracked as high potentials is precisely the trait that causes them to fail as leaders. It’s an interesting theory, but, as the author reluctantly acknowledges, the data doesn’t quite support it.
It is quite apparent that the glass ceiling prevents all but the most capable of women from becoming senior leaders. To compare this small group of women who have made it to the top against the broader population of male leaders is not valid proof that women make better leaders. However, It is valid proof that companies are choosing weaker men over stronger women in making leadership appointments. I strongly suspect that if all potential candidates for top leadership positions were considered on their merits, about half of all leaders would be women and that male and female leaders would be equally capable. I’m sure that business results would be better.
There’s another aspect as well. Diversity works both ways. Going from 80+% male leaders to 80+% female leaders would not be a good outcome. The reality is that both male and female leadership styles have their advantages. It is the blend of both along with racial, cultural and ethnic diversity that is most effective.