Why “Feminine” Leadership May Be the Answer to Our Leadership Crisis

Rod Cartwright

Rod Cartwright

The public agrees—our leaders are failing us. The 2013 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) showed that we were suffering from a leadership crisis, with public opinion of leaders in all sectors (politics, business and nonprofits) at dismal lows. The 2014 KLCM shows we are slipping even further into a state of crisis: Only 22 percent of respondents reported that they think leaders are demonstrating effective leadership, down from 25 percent last year.

Not every leader is underperforming, however. In an interview with IABC, Rod Cartwright, Ketchum’s director of global corporate and public affairs practice, tells us that we are seeing “the rise of the new feminine model of leadership communication.” The research shows female leaders outperforming men on almost every attribute of leadership effectiveness, including leading by example, communicating in an open and transparent way, admitting mistakes and bringing out the best in others.

Though our ideas of what makes up effective leadership communication are moving away from traditional leadership styles—and are currently favoring female leaders—our perceptions of what an effective leader looks like have to catch up. “Globally,” Cartwright says, “male leaders narrowly edge out their female counterparts by 54 percent to 46 percent as the gender that the world expects to navigate us through the challenges of the next five years.” This gap, he points out, has real implications for leaders of both genders as they try to pull themselves out of this crisis.

Caroline Cornell

Caroline Cornell

Caroline Cornell is associate editor for IABC’s content department.

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