Sunday, April 29, 2007

Correlation between gender and leadership qualities?

OK, by gender we understand male and female. What do we understand about leadership qualities that allows us to look for correlations with gender? Are leadership qualities and gender the only variables? How about situation? Culture?

As a man, in general:
- If I had a tear in my shirt, discovered newborn on my doorstep, or was sick and needed care, given the choice, I would tend to ask women first.
- If I wanted protection from an enemy, advice on how to repair my car or file my taxes, given the choice I would tend to ask another man first.
(Is help the same as leadership? Yes of course. Anyone who provides direction and I follow, is leading me.)

The most significant thing about these observations is that in those areas I tend to look for help from the gender representing which of my parents might have helped me similarly. I totally admit to looking for leadership in this conditioned and prejudiced way, not always, but enough to recognize how subjectively I respond.

So we can see that leadership is at least situational, subjective and, because our responses are conditioned, variable over time. I was thinking about who I would go to if I wanted something to eat. As a child it would have been my mother but now that distinction is less clear. My expectations of myself as a leader and of others as potential leaders I might follow have changed over time as I have learned and our culture has changed (e.g. fifty years ago the possibilities for a black or a female presidential candidate were considered very limited).

Back to the question. If there are correlations between gender and leadership qualities, from my own experience and observations I am inclined to believe that they only exist at a personal level and are by no means absolute.

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