When we’re asked what women bring to the corporate boardroom our response is that, in general, women are more collaborative than men. They tend to have better communications skills and are more risk averse. The addition of women to boards that have been traditionally male encourage enhanced dialog, better problem solving, and ultimately better decision making, which in turn translates into better corporate performance, a growing body of research has shown.
More women in senior-level positions have prompted a dramatic shift in our thinking about leadership. Where “strong, brave and aggressive” were traits that once defined leadership, today we’re more inclined to value leaders who exhibit traits thought to be more feminine: honesty, empathy, communication, collaboration and the ability to nurture.
This shift in thinking is the focus of a new book, The Athena Doctrine – How Women (And the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio (Jossey-Bass, 2013). Based on research of 64,000 people worldwide, they found that traditional feminine values and leadership styles are more popular than the macho paradigm of the past. The book is named for the Greek Goddess Athena, the goddess of war who disliked fighting and relied on wisdom to prevail.
According to Gerzema and D’Antonio, people from around the globe are frustrated by a world dominated by behaviors that are typically thought of as male: control, competition, aggression and black and white thinking. These “male” behaviors are often cited when talking about world problems: wars, income inequality, reckless risk-taking and scandal. The authors say that roughly two thirds of people around the globe believe that the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This is especially true for millenials.