Does Leadership have a Gender?

Does Leadership have a Gender?


Cyril Legrand

Cyril Legrand

Companions for leadership CEO

The LEAD network’s activities have led to the emergence of an interesting observation on the concept of female leadership. An immediate question springs to mind: does leadership have a gender? In recent years, this debate has truly fired up conversations ranging from at the water cooler to the many leadership forums. I’ll try to make a modest contribution to this topic here.

At the risk of being provocative, I’d argue that leadership has no gender, it is inherently multifaceted. It adapts to the context, it’s situational. In fact, in a given context, there can be different leadership styles that are effective and useful. I’d therefore prefer to talk about the conditions of leadership. A good leader knows how to create the necessary conditions for decision-making, because leadership is being able to make decisions, both individually and collectively.

The current context in which organisations are evolving or in which uncertainty and volatility prevail, requires new conditions for leadership to be shown. These conditions call for us to revisit the conventional beliefs of outdated leadership which were inherited from an era that no longer makes sense. These beliefs are based on more masculine and charismatic leadership, focused exclusively on effectiveness and efficiency, are no longer appropriate.

The myth of the so- called “Alpha Male” leader is dead. However, some organisations can often still refer to it.

It’s time to be part of a more progressive vision of leadership, a so-called post-conventional approach where other qualities are needed in order to create the conditions for sustainable and inspiring leadership. This approach has led to the emergence of a more holistic and ecological logic, a reality in which empathy and cooperation prevail over simply hierarchical and power logics. The ability to generate results is not sacrificed and particular attention is paid to how the result is reached.

The human element is at the heart of the approach, where meaning is a determining component and where logic of total intelligence is expressed. Cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual intelligence.

It’s under these conditions that I witness the emergence and power of women leaders who demonstrate extraordinary qualities in the reality of their day-to-day: their ability to manage the paradoxes of time, to reconcile the inherent polarities in complexity and their organisations’ requirements nowadays.

My work and leadership development alongside these female leaders has allowed me to see the following trends:

  • They focus on gender complementarity (and competences). They focus on what brings us together. In this way, they transcend stereotypes and eradicate prejudices by celebrating unity and cohesion.
  • They encourage people to speak by promoting freedom of expression in a safe environment.
  • They form relationships and maximise the social and relational dimensions to create an inclusive culture.
  • They demonstrate a proven talent for using all of their senses.
  • They’re able to free themselves and accept being their true selves. Their increased confidence courageously allows them to show more vulnerability and, thus lead by example that this is not a weakness, but a guarantee of managerial maturity.
    They are more empathetic and caring without sacrificing a high level of requirements and organisational and operational standards.

Leadership has no gender, but women are undoubtedly changing the conditions for greener, more conscious, and more humane leadership.

Thank you, ladies.