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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 12-Oct-12

 


Friday 12-Oct-12

Men, women, crisis and leadership

Here's a question: If you were faced with a crisis situation where you had limited ability to act, which would you choose:

  1. Social resources but no financial resources
  2. Financial resources but no social resources

The chances are that if you are a woman, you will choose (a), and if you are a man, you will choose (b). This was confirmed by Rink et al (2012) who gave subjects different scenarios and found that men evaluated the lack of financial resources negatively, while women evaluated the lack of social resources more negatively.

Why is this?

The researchers concluded that this was due to the differing views of what leadership is all about. Men tend to see it more as a position of control and decision, particularly in allocating resources (which eventually are all about money). Women, on the other hand, tend to see leadership more as a social activity, motivating and guiding people towards a common goal.

If this is the case, then I'm with the women. Decisions about allocating resources is more of a management activity. Leaders have followers, and followership is voluntary. Managers have subordinates who do as they are told. In today's business, and particularly in time of crisis, we need everyone to be fully engaged, which is why leading people is so important.

Perhaps it's not a surprise that some of the best managers I worked for were women.

References:
Rink, F., Ryan, M.K. and Stoker, J.I. (2012). Influence in Times of Crisis: How Social and Financial Resources Affect Men’s and Women’s Evaluations of Glass-Cliff Positions, Psychological Science (in press)

 


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