Effective Leadership?

Let’s ask a question. What do Cyrus the Great, Alexander, Ramses II, Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khomeini, Mao Zedong, Vlad the Impaler, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Mohammed, and Jesus Christ all have in common?

Besides the fact that thousands, if not millions, died either because of their actions or policies, or as a result of their teachings… they were all men. And I could have made the list longer, a lot longer, but it does bring up another question. With the record that males have compiled while they’ve been in charge of countries, religions, armies, institutions, corporations, and other groups… why do human beings continue to allow men to lead anything?

The simple answer is, of course, that men in general have been and remain larger and physically more powerful, in most instances, than women. Another answer is that studies show that men, either for genetic or cultural reasons, tend to defer to other males who are taller and present an image of greater personal power, often even when it’s obvious that such men are largely lacking in other areas, such as foresight and intelligence.

From historic times onward, and possibly before, men have almost always controlled societies, and in almost all of them used their power to keep women in a secondary position, invariably opposing attempts to give women legal and social status and power equivalent to men. Even today, the vast majority of women across the world are still in a secondary position and a significant percentage are little more than slaves.

All this leads to yet another question. Just how well have men done at ruling and directing societies, governments, and organizations? The “boys” in control over the last century have presided over two world wars, a long-running “cold war,” not to mention more than fifty smaller wars, rebellions, insurrections, and various other lethal conflicts across the globe.

Because so few women anywhere have political and military clout, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison, but, recently, studies have shown that U.S. corporations where women have voice and power close to that of men outperform corporations dominated by men. But it certainly doesn’t seem that this is welcome news to the good old boys in the boardroom. Might it be that, despite their insistence that they’re looking for the best talent, they’re only looking for the best male talent, and performance comes second to maintaining male superiority?

Now… where would I ever come up with such an outrageous idea?

15 thoughts on “Effective Leadership?”

  1. Scott says:

    You forgot Napoleon 🙂

    1. I didn’t list him, that’s true, but I did say the list could be much, much longer. I didn’t list Charlemagne, either.

  2. Scott says:

    The one study I could find compares women lead Fortune 1000 companies to the whole of the S&P 500, which is like comparing apples to oranges. I understand why the study did that. There just isn’t enough data yet, but using conclusions based on a flawed methodology isn’t the way to go. Even given a better data set, would that indicate that women run a better company or that better companies have more time and money to push for more diversity? I would like to see a study of Sweden or Norway of before and after they implemented gender quotas on their top management, possibly adjusting for their current economic state, which admittedly might be difficult to do.

    I agree that looking for the best talent isn’t boardroom members only goal. Depending on the circumstances their main requirement might be someone easy to control, has political clout, or numerous other alternatives. However, baring religious reasons, I don’t see them passing on a candidate due to their genitals, if the candidate could be used to further their goals. These are the same people who helped destroy our economy, have betrayed close friends, and at times broken the law to get a profit. It seems strange that gender would be the one line they won’t cross.

  3. D Archerd says:

    In places where women are in leadership roles, their record seems as mixed as that of men. Angela Merkel in Germany would have to be credited as a very effective leader by most peoples’ lights, while the “battling Begums” in Bangladesh very much less so.

  4. Joe says:

    I find your analysis simplistic. Another form of discrimination isn’t the solution.

    * Merkel : Let every refugee in, regardless of the consequences to Germany or Europe. Destroy Greece with austerity although Germany benefited from lending/selling to Greece, and is in violation of EU regulations such as inflation targets, unfairly increasing its productivity while repressing salaries.

    * Thatcher: Destroy the British lower classes, manufacturing for the benefit of banking.

    * Hilary: We came, We saw, He died. “Diplomacy” that lead to anarchy in Libya and ISIS gaining a new state there. Also lead to the terrorist problem in Mali, Chad, etc.

    * Madeleine Albright: We think 500,000 dead Iraqi kids is a price worth paying… no surprise Iraq is a mess.

    * Carly Fiorina: let’s start World War III with Russia, because I was a secretary and I rose to CEO, destroying 2 good US tech companies (Compaq and HP) but I can lie as well as any other politician.

    I could cite many other examples, but the problem is that the environment of the highest levels of power is toxic, and eliminates most good people. Most of those who climb are men, but lack of external genitalia does not, unfortunately, confer immunity to this disease.

    Only an active program to constantly ferret out and remove the self-centered, corrupt, psychopathic and stupid from our government might work. Given who’s leading the polls right now, it might not even be feasible within a democracy.

    1. I find your analysis even more simplistic than mine. I never suggested discrimination, only that perhaps women could scarcely do a worse job and might do better… or that a balance of gender power might be an improvement. And the numbers you cite for the women you mention are a tiny percent of the deaths caused by male rulers or heads of state, even over recent decades.

      1. Joe says:

        If there are more men in power, then by simple probability it is more likely that a man will have killed more people than a woman. Since the numbers are extremely skewed towards men, the lack of women mass murderers isn’t informative.

        I dispute the notion that women are “nicer” than men. There are nasty women and there are nasty men.

        I agree women probably wouldn’t do a worse job. I’d like humans to do a better job.

      2. Matt says:

        Unfortunately, with a question like “why do human beings continue to allow men to lead anything?”, it’s difficult to see your post as not being misandry. Because of the exclusivity of power being held in male hands, it’s not like comparing apples to oranges, it’s like comparing apples to football stadiums.

        I see looking back to blame 50% of the population en masse for all negative actions of the species, while simultaneously not mentioning any of the positive actions of the species (technological advancement, most importantly) is naive, if not intellectually dishonest at some level.

        I think his counter analysis is rather interesting because it does exactly what your list did – point out negative actions of those persons while ignoring their positives.

        The fact that you included Jesus is telling. I’m an atheist and I have a hard time seeing how more than a small number of the purported statements could be twisted to cause any negative action and definitely not the masses of murder that people did “in his name”. Also, since there is no contemporary evidence that he existed, only accounts 40+ years after his supposed death, it’s highly likely that you’re including fictional characters with real ones. Why not toss in Voldemort and Sauron in there while you’re at it?

        I love your work, but this post is just poorly masked sexism.

        1. Obviously, I have to disagree with your charge that the post is “poorly masked sexism.” Facts are facts. These men, and scores of others, held power, and millions died. Those who hold power have the responsibility for their actions. Claiming that women would do no better is avoiding the issue. Men did what they did. Could women do better? Perhaps, or perhaps not, but since so few have held great power, and none so far have claimed anywhere near the number of lives that the greatest male rulers have, your reasoning is disingenuous at best.

          As for Christ, you obviously didn’t read what I wrote closely, especially the phrase “or as a result of their teachings.” I’d also point out that not even scores have been killed as the results of the teachings of Rowling or Tolkien.

          Clearly, I hit one of your nerves. I suggest you ask yourself why you reacted so defensively… perhaps because I just might be on to something?

    2. alecia flores says:

      Joe has characterized the actions of these women based on nothing I’ve ever read or seen. When and where did any of the statements listed appear? They didn’t – he made them up based upon his own biases: that does not contribute to any dialogue – it’d divisive and inane. I worked for Carly Fiorina, and she is an ineffective narcissist, I know this because of her actions while she was at HP (e.g. she spent most of her time flying around making speeches, and she forced the Compaq merger so she could be CEO of the largest PC company in the world, in spite of the fact that HP was best at technical ‘stuff’). If you want to make a point, try facts and logic, not rhetoric. We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric here, there’s enough of it in the media.

      1. Joe says:

        Madeleine Albright made that famous statement. Look it up.

        Carly Fiorina lied about the Planned parenthood “baby parts” video. Look it up. Her no fly zone idea in Syria would lead to direct conflict with Russia:

        Thatcher did destroy the UK lower classes. Look up the miner’s strike as a simple example. Until the Falklands war her popularity was dropping like a stone. And her vaunted economic successes were due to Britain finding oil in the North Sea. Look it up.

        Hillary stated “We came, We saw, He died.” about Gadafi. Look it up. Look up the consequences in Libya. ISIS is in Surt. Look it up.

        Merkel’s actions are destroying the EU. There are many quotes to that effect, and the suspension of Schengen makes it clear. Look them up.

        I.e. Alecia, your ignorance does not entitle you to be dismissive unto others who know something you don’t.

  5. alecia flores says:

    Madeline Albright did not say that – she said the price was worth it – nowhere in her statement is the phrase “500,000 dead Iraqi children” – Leslie Stahl stated that they had ‘heard’ that was the number who died – but she was guessing. And that was because of sanctions wherein Sadam Hussein decided who was going to be most affected – if you recall, that is. As for Thatcher, there are two sides to that one, and I, for one, don’t have enough data to make the kind of statement you made, and I doubt that you really do, either. I am aware of the lies Fiorina told about Planned parenthood, but that wasn’t part of your original screed – your wrote about war with Russia. And Hillary was speaking about Qaddafi – a dictator who killed thousands and was responsible for the Lockerbee Bombing – you took the statement out of context. Just what do you base your statement that Merkel is destroying the EU? Having been in Europe last month, the country that is the biggest threat is the UK – they are talking about leaving. I am not ignorant, I read and I understand what I read, and I don’t misquote or take things out of context, which is what you did. As well as showing your biases, of course.

    1. Joe says:

      I love the way you “doubt that you really do, either”. The way “He invented”. But you have no bias… Ah. You know nothing about me, or where I live, or what I know.

      Even if your government considers Qaddafi to be a dictor, sodomizing and killing him is still immoral, especially since their justification for the no-fly-zone was a claim that he was bombing civilians. Turns out it never happened. But even had it, Hillary’s statement was disgraceful. She was chief of the diplomatic service at the time. What she said was in no way diplomatic or moral. Furthermore Libya at the time was one of the richest countries in Africa, and had a functioning government. It no longer does. Yay, moral superiority about dictators. Yay, forcing “Democracy” on other peoples.

      As to Lockerbee, yes that was bad. But we forget that the US has also blown up civilian planes. Somehow no one in the US was punished by death or sodomy for that crime… because we are “good” by definition. Morals and laws are only worth something if they are applied equally to all, dictators included.

      Anyway, I am tired of arguing with you, so I won’t address your other points. Some of us live in Europe, and don’t just visit it. Good night.

      1. alecia flores says:

        Joe, may I suggest a spell checker? It helps one’s arguments when one spells word correctly. And you’re right, I don’t know where you live, but I read a lot, and I lived in London for 3 years, and Thatcher had people who claimed she did more to help the poor and the middle class than Labour did. As I wrote, there are both sides to that argument. As for Qaddafi, my memory is that the Libyan civil war started as a part of the Arab Spring – well before Clinton made her statement. This topic was not about moral superiority, it was about leadership. If you wish to discuss morality, find a thread that fits.

  6. Tom says:

    It seems to me that “The Empress of Eternity” points out the basic problem with the evolution of society is the response of H. sapiens to social environment and not to any potential association of leadership and gender. The book is my favorite LE Modesitt Jr. product.

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