Women leaders and coronavirus: look beyond stereotypes to find the secret of their success

This thoughtful post on women leaders and the coronavirus highlights the political systems in New Zealand, Taiwan and Germany that make it difficult for macho populists to gain control, and provide the space for empathic ‘feminine’ leaders, who have clearly made a better job of handling the coronavirus.
Then look at the macho leaders: Trump, Johnson, Putin, Bolsonaro, and what ‘success’ they have achieved…. The stats give the answer.

Bruce Nixon

I am hosting this important article written by Kate Maclean,Professor of International Development, Northumbria University, Newcastle and published by The Conversation

Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan and Angela Merkel of Germany have all been singled out for the way they have handled the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve been praised for demonstrating care, empathy and a collaborative approach. These skills – stereotypically described as “feminine” – have enabled them to listen to scientific expertise, work with local authorities and communicate effectively with the public. It has made them come across as transparent and accountable at a time of mass confusion.

In stark contrast, male leaders in some of the worst performing countries – the UK, the US and Brazil – have adopted a leadership style of belligerent rhetoric. They’ve taken guidance from entourages of confidantes, often instead of experts. Their inconsistent, unclear communications have been compared to

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Psychopathic and Narcissistic Leaders

I was struck by these words in Steve Taylor‘s recent newsletter:

“I’m not a particularly political person, but I find behaviour of some present world leaders worryingly reminiscent of psychopathic and narcissistic dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Franco and Mussolini. That’s not to say that the present leaders have perpetrated the horrors of the older ones, but it’s easy to see how they have the capacity to, and how similar their personality types are. Political power is naturally very attractive to psychopathic and narcissistic personality types – and we should do everything we can to rein them in, and even to prevent them from attaining power in the first place.”

We all know who they are. Good people will need to stand up and be counted to keep them in check and swing the balance back towards the good. And I’m sure they are doing so.

Of course, it’s not just in politics. These people are found near or at the top of quite a number of business and financial institutions, often leading them to spectacular failure due to loss of contact with reality. As has been observed many times, money and power are great corrupters of weak, easily glamoured egos.

The higher they fly…

In my days of working in IT at a big international company, I eventually rose to a moderate level in the hierarchy – such that I was once even given the title of vice-president of something or other, to impress some Americans. One thing I did observe during those years was that, in general, the higher level managers were more unpleasant and lacking in empathy than people lower down the scale – not an invariant rule, as there was indeed the odd relatively human high level manager (yes, I probably mean you, if you’re reading this). Also, it was often the more unpleasant and pushy characters who got promoted more quickly.

I was therefore not surprised to read Oliver Burkeman’s review of Dacher Keltner’s book The Power Paradox: How We gain and Lose Influence in Saturday’s Guardian Review. Read More »