Men Become LeadersIt is a common notion that women, as a head of an organization, are under-represented. Typically, many different reasons are offered as to why that may be. The top three are usually to do with their capabilities, lack of interest, or that they may have the abilities and be interested, but cannot break through that glass wall: the transparent carrier blockade, made up of preconceived ideas, stopping women from climbing the career ladder.  Traditionalists and sexists usually choose the first reason, feminists and liberals the last, with the second reasons saved for those who are not sure what they believe.  Is there something that they are missing?

To me, it seems that a major reason behind the lack of women at management level lies with the fact that we cannot distinguish between competence and confidence.  It is easy to be blinded by extreme confidence and charisma; that is why we so we often mistake it as an indication of competency. Are men competent, or do they just come across as more charismatic than women?

This idea is seen across the board. Have you ever noticed that when it comes to picking a leader of a group, the chosen one tends to be an egotist, with an overconfident nature? It is not something that we, as humans, can help – it is built into our systems. It is evident that wherever you go, men have a fixed belief that they are cleverer than their female counterparts.

The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble— and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviours.

Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines personality for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.

It is perplexing that the reasons that propel men to the top of the career ladder, political or corporate, are the same psychological characteristics that lead to their demise. It will not come as a shock then that this legendary symbol of a “leader” is actually seen in a variety of personality disorders from Machiavellian (most politicians) to histrionic (Richard Branson).

Strangely enough, these characteristics are not typically seen in mangers, yet it is not uncommon for managers to fail because of these traits.  This is seen in nearly all cases, corporate and political, most countries, businesses or any other types of organizations are affected by these personalities. You can see this all around you by looking at staying power or even reviews, they are all indicators of failing leadership. Unfortunately, failed leadership is the norm, not the exception. Therefore, it does seem strange that so much argument over a woman’s managerial ability is based on advising them to take on these flawed traits.

The majority of characteristics that are beneficial in a leadership role are in fact not great traits for management seen by others, particularly for women.  Now, more than ever, there is a great deal of research that shows that women are now seen to have a more effective approach to leadership than men. Studies show that female managers have a better ability than men in gaining respect from their team. They are seen to have a better command in executing their ideas, empowering their mentees and solving any problems that arise in a more creative manor.

In comparison, men in managerial roles are typically not that great at making a connection with their team, probably because they are also not keen on rewarding their workforce for good work.

Considering all the obstacles women must overcome in the workplace, it is evident that a women’s road to leadership is not an easy one. The problems really lies in the fact that men are not faced with barriers, especially men that are incompetent. It is a strange world we live in, where men are rewarded for failing, yet women are never given the chance to even prove their capabilities.