With her controversial book, “Lean In,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg started up a nationwide discussion about gender equality. She says that women need to start seizing opportunities, but to also embrace their feminine side.
Alan Goldman, a professor of management at Arizona State University West and author of “Transforming Toxic Leaders,” disagrees in a recent New York Times column, “Tough Guys Rule For A Reason.” Goldman blames gender inequality on women not being able to separate their “softer, feminine behaviours” from the aggressiveness that’s needed in the business world.
Goldman, who consults Fortune 500 companies, says that the “bold, top-down leadership style directly associated with the male animal may be under attack, but it is still quite effective. Despite current attempts at demonizing old-school male behaviour, it continues to rule” and that the “veneer of male dominance” is what’s going to earn you respect in the end.
On the contrary, Sandberg encourages other women to embrace their “feminine emotions” even if this means crying at work. She says that we need to stop pretending that we’re not human at the office, because “work life” is real life and we don’t just become different people because it’s working hours.
In a separate piece in The New York Times titled “Go With What’s Natural for Women,” Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, an associate professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says that the skills women naturally posses — such as “taking an interest in employees, seeking out others’ opinions, and demonstrating respect and sensitivity” — are useful in leadership roles because it results in trust from your team, which makes the work environment more productive.
“Advice gurus should tell male business leaders to use strategies associated with women, even if they need to moderate this feminine behaviour with a sneer in order to better fit in,” she writes.
Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice-president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute and author of the book “Society 3.0: How Technology Is Reshaping Education, Work and Society,”
tells us that women are more empathetic and are more likely to notice the needs of their team compared to male leaders. According to Goldman, this compassion is intuitive and may make women different from men in the workplace, but it isn’t helping women rise up any time soon. Instead, women need to be more assertive and self-promoting because “distasteful male leadership works.”
However, perhaps one of the problems with the gender inequality debate comes from our labelling of female and male traits. Competition in the workplace inspires both men and women to be ambitious, and that’s a good thing.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.