Who makes the best leaders–men or women and what makes both bad leaders?

Well, it depends who you ask.

When you ask male leaders, men are significantly more effective than female leaders. But everyone else rates women as significantly more effective than men, particularly in business and educational organisations and middle and senior management positions.

This is according to a meta-research analysis of 95 studies of leadership effectiveness covering almost 50 years and tens of thousands of leaders. Why then, do men continue to be paid more than women and advance to more senior levels? I’ll leave you to answer that question for yourself!

Meanwhile, since 65 to 75 per cent of followers say their bosses are the worst part of their jobs, let’s take a look at what makes for a truly bad leader no matter what their sex. A review of studies of personality, leadership and organisational effectiveness summarises poor leaders as follows:

  • They betray your trust: They break promises and let people down.
  • They can’t build a team: To do that takes trust, strong interpersonal skills and a host of other capabilities we’ll take a look at next week.
  • They can’t cope with promotion: This is the Peter Principle at work–promotion beyond your level of competence; everything falls apart when they’re put in charge.
  • They don’t get results: They do the right thing and set high goals, then proceed not to reach them.
  • They have poor interpersonal skills: Poor leader-managers are the opposite of humble; they’re up themselves, cold, insensitive and unpleasant to underlings.

If you’re a female leader-manager, you know what to guard against. If you’re a male leader-manager, maybe you’d better be doubly on your guard!