Leadership difference per gender

We often get questions about differences in leadership between women and man. Many people have ideas about it, but a lot is based on gut feeling. When we attend conferences for women only, the tendency is often that man should listen more and appreciate the feminine traits.

Heiske has experienced challenges with remaining her authentic self in leadership teams that mainly consisted of white, alpha males.

Heiske: ‘the behavior of the alpha males was loud and dominant. Typically they were more focust on sending and not on listening. They also took a lot of space while man spreading. I was not sure if I had to take on the same behavior to have an equal seat on the table.’

In general we not like to talk about differences between Male and Female. This is simply because not all man or women are the same: man can have a lot of feminine traits and women can have a lot of masculine traits.

There is however a difference between the male and female brain that explains differences in emotions and thus behavior. If we take a look to gender differences from a neurologic perspective man have more testosterone than women. Women have more estrogen. These hormones have an impact of the production of dopamine.

Testosterone increases the production of dopamine, while estrogen reduces the production of dopamine. This in general results in an emotional preference of man to be driven by rewards, where women are avoiding risks. 

This difference matches nicely with our Lumina Emotional Reactors picture. In this picture are the Reward (grey) and Risk (magenta) reactors shown. Every single person has different preferences based on how the are programmed (nurture and nature).

Optimistic is the opposite of Vigilant. If you have a preference to see things from the positive end, you score high on Optimistic. If you have a preference on to see risks, you score high on Vigilant. You can also be in balance regarding to your emotional preferences of this ax.

Due to the gender-difference in our operation system man in general have an emotional preference at grey end of the Emotional Reactors and women at the magenta end. 

There is no right or wrong regarding to emotional preferences. We need both to perform well. If we are only optimistic we can end up being overoptimistic and overlook potential risks. When we only see risks we can end up being pessimistic.

Unfortunately our society nowadays still prefers to see a preference towards the grey end of the circle, while both ends are equally valuable! This is something we all need to be aware of.

That’s why we all need to know our own emotional preferences to be an impactful, contemporary leader. If you have a preference for the grey end: ensure you are aware of the potential risks. In case you have a preference for the magenta end (in general often the case for women): don’t be afraid of taking risks. Take risks where the potential damage is still manageable!

Let’s value all preferences equally and aim for the optimal balance!