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Yash Gupta
Business School Dean

Yash Gupta

Yash Gupta is Professor and Dean of The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

More Holistic Thinking?

It's not so important whether the people in charge are men or women. What matters, above all, is that they have the qualities of leadership. When you have a strong, capable leader at the head of an organization - say, Golda Meir or Bill Gates or Indra Nooyi of Pepsico - gender isn't an issue.

It is generally acknowledged, however, that most women look at issues in a more holistic, big-picture way than most men do. So, it's not unreasonable to make the case that women managers might have handled the Wall Street meltdown in a different, more effective way. Before all those questionable financial practices got too far, women executives might have been able to look at the big picture and raise some key questions. For example: What would be the consequences of these practices? How would they affect different constituencies?

Still, when it comes to leadership, I believe we shouldn't think in terms of men vs. women. The focus should be on having the best minds, and that means women AND men.

By Yash Gupta

 |  March 9, 2009; 12:04 PM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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How can we access BOTH masculine and feminine attributes to create a culture of leadership that maximizes human potential?
Social science research informs us that we view men as more individualistic, domineering, seeking control and aggressive; while we view women as more geared towards building relationships and community; more emotionally oriented, and more supportive of others. Neither is better. My own research based on interviews with 25 male and 25 female leaders indicates that over the past 15 years the presence of women in managerial and leadership roles has resulted in the following qualities being seen as more important for effective leadership: intuitive thinking, collaboration, emotional savvy, inclusiveness and support for others. All participants saw these attributes as stereotypically feminine. Decision making - veiwed as a more masculine trait - was as important as it was 15 years ago, but aggressive masculine behavior was both less important and less acceptable. Conclusion - the financial disaster might have been avoided or mitigated under the influence of more women and therfore more relational and communal values. Instead we had a system that was out of balance. Its leaders and its leadership culture represented an overabundance of individualistic and aggressive behaviors and was not balanced by relational and communal values. We must bear in mind, however, that if women had been over-represented and men under-represented in our leadership culture, we would simply be having a different set of problems today. What we need is a leadership culture that integrates both feminine and masculine characteristics.

Posted by: AnnePerschel | March 9, 2009 11:23 PM
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