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The proportion of women increases somewhat as we go down the management ladder but the fact remains that women are still discriminated against when it comes to top positions and leadership roles.
Dislike for women being in the driver’s seat
What is tragic is that people assume that men have good leadership qualities – even when they don’t! Women as leaders is viewed with a lot of skepticism. As a result, able, competent and qualified women get sidelined by not so able, less competent, less qualified men simply by virtue of being men. There seems to be an inherent dislike for women being in the driver’s seat. And by an extension of the same thinking, men are liked and admired in leadership positions.
So why is it that incompetent men become leaders in companies? One reason is that there do not seem to be too many obstacles in the path of progress where men are concerned; at the same time, women have a host of hurdles that they have to cross if they are to be even considered for leadership status.
Actually rewards incompetent men
Our current system actually rewards incompetent men while penalizing competent women. There is a belief that women are incapable and/or uninterested in senior corporate responsibilities – but that is a male point of view, besides the fact that there is an invisible barrier (the glass ceiling), that women are unable to cross because of age old prejudices and opposition to women working outside the home and hearth.
A major reason for men’s dominance is that the confidence and arrogance of men is mistakenly interpreted as indication of ability, competence and leadership skill. Women are less inclined to display this air of superiority. They are, by nature, more humble about their expertise and capabilities and this is a major quality of a good leader – it enables them to motivate and inspire people to perform at their best. Women have also been seen to have greater emotional intelligence which makes them sensitive and considerate leaders unlike men who, according to research conducted in 40 countries across industries, are egotistical, haughty, scheming and devious.
Have empathy for their followers
These traits are unlikely to bring out the best in subordinates, even though there are enough and more examples of “leaders” who have these qualities. These may have worked in the past but in today’s business world, there is a greater need to have leaders who have empathy for their followers, who care for their teams, who nurture and help individuals grow and develop, who listen, mentor and guide rather than instruct and order, who are flexible and who reward effort.
These characteristics occur more naturally in women, as evidenced by scientific research and it thus makes them better leaders. If women quit work to manage home and children, it is not because they are not competent to lead corporations but because they have no alternative options to follow. And it is high time, we change our attitude and realise that things will run more efficiently and productively if left in the hands of competent women and not incompetent men.