[October 26, 2018] Early last year, I wrote about ‘good’ things we can learn from a dog (see link here). In the article were listed ten things; one of them was that promises don’t count and talk is cheap. My intent was to show that there are valuable leadership traits that transcend gender, culture, and perhaps even animal species.
We can take this idea a little further and suggest that some leadership traits are more important than other traits. This would seem to be an intuitive assertion but one that many academic social scientists abhor because it means some people more valued because of their traits.
Recently, two psychologists studied this very idea; that some are valued more than others. Their research was published earlier this month (see link here). What they propose is an explanation of why women are underrepresented in leadership roles. Stereotypical feminine traits, they concluded, are appreciated as nice “add-ons” for leaders but that stereotypical masculine attributes are more valued as defining qualities in a leadership role.
The concept that ‘promises don’t count and talk is cheap’ is, in fact, a masculine judgment. What the authors are confirming in this psychological study is that such an argument is biased toward male traits. Perhaps they are right but I’m merely stating what works. That may change in the future where feminine traits become the dominant leader role; however, most believe that to be unlikely.
To illustrate, competence and assertiveness (masculine traits) are considered more defining and essential to a leadership role.1 This confirms an action, in contrast to intent, a trait that remains more valued. That is why we don’t value a leader who “promises” to fix a problem when compared to a leader who “takes action” and fixes a problem.
This is why I’m a little skeptical of those who make the claim that feminine traits, over some unspecified time period, will eventually become as valued as masculine traits. I could be wrong but for at least the foreseeable future we know that promises don’t count and talk is cheap. Don’t just believe me, talk to my dog … her name is Bella.