So Proves the Latest Global Leadership Study: The Athena Doctrine
Leadership in the 21st century requires more of the attributes held by women. Thanks to the herculean efforts of two highly regarded researchers, John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio, we now know this to be a fact. The team interviewed 64,000 people in 13 countries, men and women alike. The results are undeniable. The female traits of collaboration, flexibility and nurturing are winning out in a world that is becoming increasingly more social, interdependent and transparent.
Why is this study in leadership called The Athena Doctrine? Athena is the Greek goddess whose strength as a warrior came from wisdom and fairness. These are two of the leadership attributes highly valued by people around the globe who participated in this extensive survey. The macho paradigm of the past — dominance, strength, assertiveness, and decisiveness — are giving way to the more open, creative, communal and flexible traits found more frequently among women.
In an era where the world is flat, according to author Thomas Friedman, communication may be with people next door or around the globe. The next great idea, company, movement or invention is as likely to come from Alexandria, Egypt as from Alexandria, Virginia. Communication skills have become so important in the world in which we live, and women excel in communicating and socializing ideas, and are more open to opinions and comfortable with the dialogue.
“Athena Doctrine” authors Gerzema and D’Antonio take pains to document their leadership survey findings, with many stories from around the globe that support them. Of course there are differences among nations, but the trends are extremely clear.
Corporate leaders would do well to take the findings of The Athena Doctrine to heart. In companies today, with social media in rapid rise and communication among employees a given, leaders have to inspire the rank and file and accept two-way communication as a skill they must possess. I believed when I led the USA Network and The Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy) to prominence at the end of the ’90s that good ideas, critiques of company processes and understanding what works and doesn’t work in the company could come from anyone at any level in the company. Maybe I was a bit ahead of my time, but now that I’ve read The Athena Doctrine, I realize that my leadership came more from my core beliefs, shared more by women than men. I was surprised by a comment made by my male COO that he thought I ran the company like a woman, and he was glad I did.
It was an open, collaborative yet decisive era that drove our networks to the top of the competition.
This leads to the conclusions presented in The Athena Doctrine. The best leaders have a combination of traits held by women and men. That a combination of strength, decisiveness and authority when combined with flexibility, collaboration, creativity and openness, are the leadership qualities the best leaders for the 21st century will embody.