We need Chief Empathy Officers
We need CEO to stand for Chief Empathy Officers
If every company had Chief Empathy Officers, we would finally be cracking away at gender coded expectations, instead of endorsing them.
It was my pleasure to be on a peopleHum Dream Team panel with Chester Elton, Adrian Gostick and Debra Ruh last week. My question from Aishwarya Jain, the moderator, was a discussion centred around Barak Obama’s suggestion that women make better leaders than men.
I struggled with this a little, because who wants to contradict President Obama on a global podcast. Not me. However, what I did want to do was to re-frame it a little.
Now we all know women who have been and are terrible leaders, and men who have been great. But now the global pandemic is bringing to the forefront women leaders who have stepped up during the crisis. In many cases they have actually been more successful in stemming the ravages of the disease than their male counterparts. These include internationally renowned leaders such as Angela Merkel (Germany,) Sanna Marin (Finland) and Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand). We now also know women leaders who are perhaps lower profile. Haliah Yakob (Singapore), Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia) and the Health Minister for Kerala, K. K. Shailaja. In other situations, they seem to have been able to gain the trust of their communities and bring them together, such as Sophie Wilmès in Belgium.
Find out more about 3Plus' Leadership Coaching Sessions HERE.
Power skills lead
We are witnessing the notable success of a particular leadership style that has been traditionally associated with women. Until recently we called these attributes “soft skills” and even “female skills.” They have now become the new, must-have, power or effective skills, identified by the World Economic Forum for 2020.
Gender expectations and hierarchy
There is no reason why men can’t exhibit these new power skills. Our organisations traditionally assigned higher importance to traditional male coded skills to give a gender hierarchy. So called male-skills are more highly regarded, and therefore better rewarded, than the soft skills associated with women. Gender bias and sexism, embedded in our cultures and organisations, ensure that everyone toes the line to maintain and protect the male-dominated status quo.
Men who exhibit “softer” behaviour, and behave outside gender expectations, frequently experience a back-lash (“pussy”, “grow a pair”, “man-up” etc.), and are penalised for being weak. That is why so many fail to take parenting leave. Women are also penalised for behaving outside female gender stereotypes. They are labelled aggressive if they are assertive, emotional if they are passionate, and strident when they are articulate.
These skills are associated with an inclusive leadership style and workplace culture. In their essence they are gender neutral, but we have grown so used to stereotypes, we assume they relate specifically to one gender. I am so inspired by Jacinda Arden that I found myself watching the New Zealand budget the other day. But then I also follow the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. In response to the protests around George Floyd's murder we see empathetic responses from women and men leaders alike.
What we need is to lose our associations with gender stereotypes for everyone, not just leaders. We need all our leaders to be inclusive and demonstrate soft skills. Never has it been more apparent that we are rewarding the wrong leadership characteristics. We see those incompetent men, cited by Tomos Chamorro Premuzic, become leaders whether they hide in bunkers or refrigerators. These men have ruptured many of our fragile systems to the point where they are broken. We clearly need different types of executives to lead our organisations and countries.
To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, we need to unlearn what we have learned. We need to find the courage to teach our sons to be more like our daughters, and not the other way around.
This means that we need to create organisations when CEO means Chief Empathy Officer.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
We have Remote Learning Programs available
Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Virtual Presentations – Managing The Chat! 5 years later the expert guidance on virtual presentations hasn’t changed by more than a pinch..read more
Read our interview with Lara Morgan best selling author, millionaire entrepreneur, proud mother of three. She is determined to be a voice for growth enterprise support as well as driving sales pride in Britain.read more
If you could find your passion, would you be truly happy? Here are 4 real tips that debunk the myths around finding your passion.read more