Monday, March 25, 2013

Patriarchy Too!

Tonight I had an insight while I was sorting laundry.  I was in a hurry to take the laundry off the clothesline so I piled it in the baskets and then dumped it all in two piles on the bed to sort it later as the task seemed daunting.   Fortunately I had not put the clothes in the dryer, for the hot air used to dry them adds even more fluff to the piles and produces quite a bit of lint in the process.

There was a mixture of some whites, socks, towels, shirts, reusable rags, colors, towels, underwear, some colors, and bedding.  I went to work to try and untangle the mess, and some order and meaning began to arise from out of the chaos.  And by the time I was done there where several neat folded piles separated into my clothing and my wife’s all arranged by shirts, pants, socks, and underwear; followed by towels, and bedding, and last but not least the reusable rags. 

The process reminded me of a similar process I have been experimenting with to try and untangle the meaning behind articles written on the leadership effectiveness of men and women.   I came up with some interesting findings when I tried this the other day in my post Pronounced Patriarchy where I  found some bad poetry, and decided to try another version of it on a similar article that was pointed out to me. 

The article, Are Women Better Leaders than Men?, was written by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman  as posted on the Harvard Business Review on March 15, 2012, and when I was finished sorting through the hot air and fluff, it seems that this article was mostly about lint and reusable rags, or patriarchy too.    

Our latest survey confirms some seemingly eternal truths:
  1. the majority of leaders (64%) are still men.
  2. the higher the level, the more men there are 78% of top managers were men
  3. stereotypes would have us believe that female leaders excel at "nurturing" competencies.
But, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts, what should we conclude from these data? Why are we not engaging and fully employing these exemplary women leaders?
  • Yes, blatant discrimination is a potential explanation.
When we shared our findings with a group of women and asked them to suggest why they thought their colleagues had been rated so highly on taking initiative and self-development, their answers pointed to the still-tenuous position they feel themselves to be in the workplace:
  1. we need to work harder than men to prove ourselves.
  2. we feel the constant pressure to never make a mistake, and to continually prove our value to the organization.
  3. (women) don't feel their appointments are safe.
  4. (women are) afraid to rest on their laurels.
  5. (women are) highly motivated to take feedback to heart.
 The irony is that these are fundamental behaviors that drive the success of every leader, whether woman or man.

Why are women viewed as less strategic? This is an easier question to answer.
  •  More top leaders are men.
 What should leaders and managers do with these findings?
  1. Beware that many women have impressive leadership skills.
  2. Clearly, chauvinism or discrimination is an enigma that organizations (and the business culture) should work hard to prevent. 
  3. However, that said, think of the benefits in today's economic climate.
So why is it I feel more driven to stress, then success when I realize that most of our institutions continue to operate as patriarchies under the lint and fluff of enlightened leadership? 

No comments:

Post a Comment