Op-Ed Friday: Men and learning leadership

July 10, 2015 by Joshua
in Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

At a meeting to promote the teaching of leadership a couple months ago, I saw several proposals to support women pursuing leadership but none for men.

I sensed that others there felt that since men held nearly all corporate and government positions of authority that men had greater access to positions of leadership.

I didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up, but I found a few perspectives missing.

Advantages existing for men to attain leadership positions doesn’t make the average man happier or make his life easier. Most men have no access the corporate or political power of any sort. Actually, men having advantages unrelated to leadership would suggest men would learn less how to lead, since they’d need less skill. We as a nation, society, culture, etc benefit from having more skilled leaders. If advantages exist for some men, helping those without that advantage would seem to help everyone, in particular to undermine the advantages

The proposals to help women sounded like they would help women face problems that only women face—for example, to assert more effectively, to network more effectively, and things like that. I think everyone supports that help.

From having coached many men and women, I haven’t seen men having fewer or smaller problems. People seem to think that because so many in leadership positions are men, that men in general don’t need comparable help reaching learning leadership skills.

But the President being a man doesn’t give some schmoe trying to eek out a living special access. On the contrary, if he has little but people think he has more, he may end up cut off. Many men struggle to learn leadership skills and could use training as specialized as that for women.

Most government and corporate leaders may be men, and they may have had an easier time getting there than women with similar goals, but they make up a negligible percentage of all men so their existence doesn’t mean other men have special access. Nor does it make losing less painful for those that do. Or not being able to compete in the first place, which describes the remaining ninety-nine-plus percent.

If we as a nation, society, culture, etc want the most effective leaders in our leadership positions, I can’t help but conclude we want to help everyone and not presume that because some men are leaders that all men have advantages.

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