Men are managers; women are leaders

Men are managers; women are leaders.

Burbank, California; February 24, 2002; Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student



Let me start this article by saying that there are exceptions to every rule. Men may still have the most advantageous positions in business settings, but it could only be a matter of time before that too will change forever. Now, let?s look at the situation in an average household for a frightening moment: the man goes to work in the morning?and maybe the woman does too?to make it possible that the day-to-day issues are taken care of: the bills have to be paid, grocery-shopping has to be done, and there needs to be some financial room for vacationing at least once a year. Sounds familiar? Let?s take it one step further then. Due to his busy schedule, the man gets to plan when it?s convenient to go shopping, to have a nice dinner out, or whether the family can go to the beach this week or next. He is granted the management in the organization called home. A manager, due to this concept, is the person that gets to plan and decide on the chores. I heard a nice statement somewhere (and forgive me if I?m rephrasing it wrong here), that a manager is the one who leads a team in a forest, decides which trees need to be cut down, and screams ?timbeeeeerrrrr,? while a leader is the one that climbs in a high tree, looks around, and screams, ?wrong foreeeeesssst!? Do you get the message here? There?s a difference between being a manager and being a leader. A manager is focusing on the ongoing processes; the small things; while a leader is keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Leaders are the ones that develop the strategy for the organization. They determine where the firm, company, and in this particular case, family, will be five years from now. So, while the men are hustling to maintain the routine, the women are setting out the long-term plan.

Another interesting discovery I made is that women are mainly Machiavellian leaders. In Machiavellian leadership the end justifies the means. That entails, of course, that it does not matter what ways you use to reach the goal, as long as you reach it. Women are excellent in doing that. Oh, by the way, Machiavellian leadership is not promoted in leadership lessons as the most ethical way of leading. But bottom-line here is, that in some real-life situations no one really cares for ethics, especially when we?re talking survival? Another way to present the principal leadership-style of women is as ?the psychodynamic approach [which] places emphasis on leaders? obtaining insight into their personality characteristics and understanding the responses of subordinates, based on their personalities.? (Northouse, 2001, p.190) Northouse explains that ?the psychodynamic approach focuses on the psychology of the individual leader and ignores the culture and social norms of the organization,? (p. 212) and that ?insights obtained may be colored by and may even be directed by the unconscious predispositions of the clinician.? (p.200)

So while leadership courses teach us that servant leadership, facilitative leadership, and transformational leadership (among others) are the way to go, women intuitively practice what they perceive and experience as the most effective leadership style in a given situation. The beauty?and most amusing part?of this whole scenario is, that women know exactly how to give the men that surround them the idea that they, the men, are the ones in charge. If you?d ask those men whether they think their lady has leadership qualities, they might say something like, ?Hardly. She?s so weak, so fragile, so dependent. I could never have the heart to tell her how I really feel towards her, because it would kill her.? Yeah, right. What these men don?t seem to realize is, that whether it requires a display of physical or emotional weakness (a much, and successfully used tactic), blocking out unwanted or hurtful eventualities (his infidelities?), or having to temporarily put aside every sign of personal pride; most women will do it if that fits their purpose. This gives sense to Northouse?s (2001) statement: ?Some people are leaders because of their formal position within an organization, whereas others are leaders because of the way other group members respond to them.? (p. 5)

In relationships, men usually have a need to feel that they are in charge. They are granted that (by the women). Further, men want to feel needed and strong. They can also get that (from the women). Women know that there is a slumbering macho in every man. They feed that if it satisfies him. He can literally go any way he wants?. as long as it doesn?t interfere with her agenda. To her, the main issue is, that she gets what she wants in the end, no matter how it has to happen.


Of course there are men who see through all this, and decide at a certain point in their life to really take charge of what they want. And of course there are women who don?t care to reach a goal if it means giving up something as essential as their pride. But we?re not discussing exceptions here. We?re observing the general way of how things happen. And this is it.


So, in the end, one can wonder what?s more important: the ends or the means. If I had a slightly lower morale, I might have chosen for the ends. Unfortunately, I haven?t mastered that (yet). Besides, one can also wonder if the end really justifies every mean, especially when there has been a lot of pride swallowing to do. After all, you have to be able to live with yourself, right? And that may lead to the question: ?can you ultimately live with yourself if you know that emotional manipulation gave you what you wanted??


Northouse, P. Leadership Theory and Practice, Thousand Oaks, CA., London, U.K., New Delhi, India , Sage Publications Inc.