April 20, 2018

Women as managers

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There was an interesting article about whether women manage differently from men in the Economist of 6 June 2015.

The research reported suggests that there is no real difference and it brings to mind a short scenario called ‘The New CEO’ which I have presented to MBA students and executives for many years. Briefly, the Board of a multi-national conglomerate in trouble has to decide whether or not to hire an outstanding female. The real issue implied by the scenario is whether a successful business strategist can become a corporate strategist overnight. The difference between business and corporate strategy is a well-worn strategic issue but participants are typically misled by the gender issue, saying things like ‘We should give her a chance’ or ‘We need more women CEOs’. An important lesson arising from this exercise is that you need to recognise when you are deriving conclusions based on personal prejudice rather than analytical reasoning.