“Women Have Natural Leadership Advantages”
by Dr. John Jackson, © 2003
Most people agree that women generally have a more finely tuned relationship radar than men. In part, that may be because of how women and men differ in the way their brains function. Clinical studies have shown that women think with both hemispheres (the creative and the analytical) of their brain simultaneously, while men are wired up to think with each hemisphere sequentially. Because of this, I think women have some natural leadership advantages. Leadership is more like family than it is like war.
Leadership requires a focus on the future and strategic decision making ability. And, since I am one, I like to think that there are lots of good leaders who are men! But, I see a number of leadership dimensions where women may have a natural leadership advantage. Dr. John Maxell defines leadership as “influence”. If that is true, we want to be sure to exercise our leadership influence opportunities with the greatest of care. I’ve learned over the years that leadership influence rests on certain principles. So how is leadership more like family than it is like war?
Leadership rests on relationship. While you can certainly be a leader on the basis of a position or on the basis of strength or power, that form of leadership does not change the heart and character of a person. Leadership based on force or demand may cause someone to act, but it will not cause them to change. Leadership that rests on relationship recognizes the connection of heart, the sharing of a dream, and the stirring of hope that comes when people are in relationship. Women have a “natural” advantage in this area of leadership development.
Leadership requires commitment for the long haul. Many leaders make the mistake of accepting a leadership role and then only thinking short term in that role. My experience suggests that lasting leadership thinks of the long haul. Rather than a “sprint”, leadership is generally a “marathon”. Because women generally have greater endurance than men, I think women are uniquely suited for leadership that lasts!
Leadership means both strategic focus AND simultaneous sensitivity. When we first had children, I would periodically “watch the children” when my wife went out for the evening. When she’d return, she’d find that we’d had a wonderful time….but did nothing other than play and have fun. When she watched the children, she’d also be cooking dinner, doing laundry, talking on the phone, cleaning the kitchen, and planning her next day’s activities! I’d get a headache just thinking about it. Leadership does require strategic focus…but it also requires simultaneous sensitivity to multiple dimensions of behavior, data, and complexity. Because women think with both hemispheres simultaneously, women have a natural leadership advantage!
The truth is, I think God has given both men and women leadership advantages. God has “wired us” so that we have a natural complementary nature. Married couples that make it recognize their spouses as “God-gifts” because of their unique and complimentary gift mixes. Since leadership is influence, I think God has positioned women for major leadership impact in the relationship fabric of our lives. Women….seize your leadership opportunities and influence your world for Christ!