😟 Traditional leadership

Repeats outdated ideas about leading

To support all gender identities in leading roles, avoid masculine stereotypes and rigid hierarchies when discussing leadership.

Illustration of a diverse group with 5 people of different ages, body shapes and ethnic background

Basic Example

Advanced Example

Throughout history, ideas of an effective leader matched ideas of masculine traits – single-minded, competitive, and authoritarian. People with feminine traits were not deemed leadership material. But our ideas of what we need from leaders today are evolving. Avoiding male-leader stereotypes helps build a space where people with the ability to be supportive, to encourage, and inspire us to work together toward a common cause can take on leadership responsibilities, regardless of their gender identity.


We'll meet the new supervisor later. I've heard they'll also communicate expectations and shared goals for new research and development projects.


We'll meet the new boss later. It seems he'll also take the lead on new R&D projects.

Doesn't resonate with

  • People who enjoy interacting and collaborating while working toward shared milestones
  • Everyone who identifies as a woman
  • People inspired and motivated by a greater shared purpose
  • The generation born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s

Dig deeper

Much of the discussion of and research into successful leadership styles revolves around gender stereotypes – society’s expectation of what constitutes masculine or feminine traits and behaviors. Numerous studies show that the biggest difference between women leaders and their male counterparts isn’t how effective they are. The biggest gap is in how others see and rate their respective effectiveness.

The growing complexity and faster pace in the corporate environments of the digital age changes what organizations and employees need to be productive. And these changing needs are reshaping leadership. Driven by the demand for more innovation and close collaboration in cross-disciplinary teams, organizations are becoming less hierarchical. And employees need empowerment as they continuously adapt to new situations. At the same time, evidence suggests leadership focused on transformation is becoming more communal, inclusive, and people-centered – qualities stereotyped as feminine. And that women leaders are adopting more behaviors stereotyped as masculine. The downside to this gendered perspective? It can pigeonhole women and people who take a collaborative approach into managing people and teams at the cost of rising to C-level positions. A trend that can affect an organization's overall business outcome.

By raising awareness for the outdated ideas about leadership and framing leadership in gender-neutral terms, you can contribute to a more gender-diverse leadership environment and support a company’s overall success and the bottom line.


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