A Bow to the Leadership Goddess: the AAUW on the “Athena Doctrine”

The AAUW leadership blog offered a compelling profile of a new publication honoring an ancient story — the Athena Doctrine, a tip of the hat to women’s particular wisdom in contemporary culture and organizations. I’ve written extensively about the Bathsheba Syndrome, a warning to leaders tempted by false security and arrogance. But here, we have an even older divinity renewed in a positive message for men and women to work smarter and more collaboratively.
41CvfBPX+oL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_The AAUW article reviews the Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio.

“Gerzema and D’Antonio travelled through 18 nations and asked 64,000 people about their outlooks on the role of leadership, where society is heading, and the desperate need to adopt feminine values since, according to the authors, “people around the world feel that feminine traits correlate more strongly with making the world a better place.” Specifically, 65 percent of people around the world believe that more female leadership in government would prompt a rise in trust and fairness and a decline in wars and scandals. Hence, women unknowingly possess the qualities, traits, and values to help society turn the world into a fair and better place. Who wouldn’t want that?

You may be wondering what it is exactly that we women possess that can be utilized as an asset to benefit ourselves, our neighbors, and the world at large?

According to the book, we, as women
– “Inspire more trust (in consumers, co-workers, and investors) because [we] seem to listen more carefully and empathize with others”
– Are more likely to cooperate, collaborate, communicate, and empathize, which are four of the idealized traits that are classified within the Athena Doctrine.
Embody the characteristics of morality, which is “strongly associated with loyalty, reason, empathy, and selflessness — all feminine traits.” Read the whole review here….

These qualities, shared by men and women, support sustainable innovation and collegiality. It’s culture that declares them “feminine” and may judge them as a sign of weakness. The authors show that, even in strongly patriarchal cultures, many characteristics considered “feminine” are believed to be solutions to leadership problems. Value assessment and leadership-follower relationships clearly have layers that go beyond mainstream thinking and power politics!

It’s a fascinating metaphor — the logical Athena as empathic leader — and an interesting research project. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Has anyone out there read it? Is the Athena Doctrine proposing a different kind of authenticity for leadership? What do you think about gender differences, values and transforming leadership practices?

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