Who runs the world – and how?


Do women lead differently than men, and if so, do those differences come down to gender or organizational representation? That’s the question posed by Joan Michelson in a recent Forbes article on gender and leadership style. In the article, Michelson speaks with Laura Liswood, Secretary-General of the Council of Women World Leaders and a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs.

Instead of inherent gender-based norms dictating leadership behavior, Liswood focuses on the organizational dynamic between “the elephant” (the dominant group of leaders and decision-makers, which happen to be men in the global economy) and “the mouse” (the non-dominant group, or women in the global economy). “The mouse” has to take on a more understanding and adaptive stance to “the elephant” and the systems it creates; therefore, when women assume leadership positions, they still need to work within and through the system designed by men.

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Perceptions also diverge on gender lines. For example, the same communication style which is seen as “assertive” in men can be perceived as “too aggressive” in women, due to expectations about conduct from the dominant versus non-dominant group.

Watch Liswood speak at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2019 International Women’s Day Forum Webcast here.

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