More women’s power please!

To the author as a man, it could be unimportant that there are by far not enough women in leadership positions. However—to not exploit their potential makes our entire economy weaker.

By Jens Kügler

Everyone talks about the skills shortage and the threat of economic damage. But as it seems, hardly anyone raises the potential of hundred thousands or even millions of possible female executives. By the way, the women themselves don’t help to improve their gender’s position, too.

The problem is not only the fact that women often fall behind in their career due to child-rearing and education. Rather, an elbow mentality (as we call it in German) still prevails in the boardrooms of our companies. And most women simply do not want to work with an extended elbow or challenge a dog-eat-dog-society. This is not their mentality. By psychologists, the classical career attributes like aggressiveness and assertiveness are clearly regarded as typical male.

What can women do better? The evolutionary biologist Axel Meyer has summarized studies on this topic in 2015. His conclusion: Women have more linguistic eloquence and a more comprehensive vocabulary. They are more empathic and more sensitive to the emotions of their counterparts. As a practical advantage over men, women have better fine motor skills, faster perception and better imagination. Yet, all this is not enough to burst the glass dome to the men’s domains.

How can the treasure of female executives be lifted? Many airlines offer a good example. They regularly practice the so-called Crew Resource Management trainings. In these workshops everyone speaks absolutely openly and without any blame about all problems and mistakes. The flight captain must not be dominant and command. He rather moderates. Women significantly tend more to this this kind of openness. Unlike men, they do not act politically and hierarchically, which is beneficial to error management.

Do coaches and consultants not again and again say that managers can learn a lot from pilots? Trainings like these would only be one approach to attract more women to leadership engagements. Women do not want to fight but create. Men, on the other hand, are fighting for their crusted structures and hierarchies. Unfortunately, this is of no use to us. This is still 19th century.

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