What makes a good leader? Toughness, authority, drive and determination? A lot of people would naturally serve up these attributes as being those of a good leader. However, the times they are a changing….albeit slowly.
Think about from where our habits and ideas on leadership originated. Most likely in the military, perhaps from Roman times, or even further back; Greek orators, European royalty. With the exception of some Queens at the helm, for the most part leadership through the ages has been male driven, top down hierarchical and authoritarian. More advanced military systems require discipline, control and following orders without questions. It is no surprise that with modern industrialisation, systems of leadership in business followed systems of leadership in military; hierarchical structures.
That was all fine while the mores of the ages dictated that men took leadership positions and women were not permitted in general. Society has moved a long way since then, however (although many might say not far enough). It has really only been in the last 20 years that modern industrialised countries have been focusing on gender equality in the workplace. Not only that, but the modern worker, male or female, is much better versed in their rights and expectations. Portability of professions and across workplaces means more competition. All of a sudden, companies have to be wiser in how they train their leaders so as to maximise staff retention and productivity.
Do the old systems of top down hierarchical authoritarianism work in the modern workplace? What are the attributes of a modern leader? Are women better leaders than men?
Four Behaviours Shared by the Best Bosses
Positive Expectations and Attitude. The notion that simply holding positive expectations about your team's performance will create a self-fulfilling prophecy and lead to high levels of performance. But there's more to it than that. Effective leaders are also optimistic and upbeat. They exude confidence, in their own leadership, and in the competencies and capabilities of their teams.
Fairness. There are two types of justice. Distributive justice is based on outcomes. Do people get rewards and recognition that fairly reflects their contributions? The second type is procedural justice. Is the leader fair and impartial in how rewards and recognition are decided? Both are important. Authenticity. Good leader-follower relationships are built on trust, and nothing builds trust more than a leader who is straightforward and "authentic." Authentic leaders don't have hidden agendas. They let people know exactly what they are trying to do, and how they are trying to accomplish it. Good leaders are honest. They don't expect others to do anything they wouldn't do, and they embody the mission of the group or organization. As they say, good leaders "walk the talk." Good Communication. This is seemingly simple, but the very best leaders communicate effectively and they communicate constantly. They inform, clarify, and connect. Unfortunately, too many leaders undercommunicate (it's impossible for a leader to "overcommunicate"). They assume followers know more than they do. They assume that "if I've told them once, they know and understand." Repetition is important.
Good communication underlies all of the other behaviours - you need to communicate positive expectations and attitude, explain clearly procedures and the rationale for policies, and develop good, solid interpersonal relationships with those you lead.
Why Women Make Better Leaders Than Men
Studies show that women are more likely than men to possess the leadership qualities that are associated with success. That is, women are more transformational than men - they care more about developing their followers, they listen to them and stimulate them to think "outside the box," they are more inspirational, AND they are more...