Ambitious for the feminine
Are women less ambitious than men – or to be absolutely correct are women less vertically ambitious than men? The debate opened up by ad agency chairman Kevin Roberts – which has seen him put on garden leave – has interesting timing when we are looking at the prospect of, arguably, the three biggest leadership roles in the Western world being occupied by women.
The subsequent coverage of what was or wasn’t said and what was or wasn’t meant in the original interview has served to illuminate the ongoing debate about gender balance in organisations.
Balancing masculine and feminine
While balance, as in quotas, is important providing those in leadership roles are up to the job, surely what requires greater attention is how we bring essentially feminine qualities into balance with the more masculine in our organisations and in our leadership practice.
What we’re looking at here is things like empathy, compassion, finely-tuned social skills (communication, listening, relationship building), openness, collaboration. I am not saying these are the province of women only. We all have access to both feminine and masculine – the more driven, competitive attributes. What I am advocating is placing greater value on these ‘softer’ qualities because of the positive impact they will have on organisational culture and the people we lead.