Learning Lab

Should Female Leadership Training Be Different

In this article we’re looking at whether female leadership training should be any different to male leadership training. My answer in brief is maybe, or at least, women & men should understand the biological differences in our brain and how this can enable them to work optimally. One of the biggest differences in the male brain & the female brain is that men have around 6 and a half times more gray matter than women do and women have around 10 times more white matter than men do. Gray matter is involved in processing information and white matter is involved in distributing information to other areas of the brain.

Leadership training with a neuroscience basis tells us that gray matter is much more set up for processing information that comes in locally and so men tend to be working on information there & then in a localized fashion. Tasks are loved typically by men, they feel secure when they’ve got something that they can see the objective of and they can see where they’re heading and can see what they’re going to achieve at the end so they become very focused. They often want to work this way and great leadership trainings will teach you that it’s because they are predisposed to be much more single focused and to work on a goal to get an outcome. This doesn’t mean that they can’t work in any other way but their brain is just wired to predispose them to be very focused in this way. You could find very multi-focused men out there and you can also find very single-focused women as well.

We’re talking about the foundational level at this point, which is interesting. What makes it special is when we build on top of the foundational level to understand how we individually work best. This combines the actual brain anatomy with what our role requires and leadership training teaches us how we bring in those components that will enable us to get the outcomes we have set.

Women on the other hand, have more of the white matter that means the brain is very connected to the other parts of the brain. Women’s brains are designed to be constantly taking into account many different things.  They are taking into their account the context of their work, the objectives, the overall goal, the relationships involved, and the different angles that they need to look at things from.

We love examples in leadership training so, imagine working on a project and everyone knows the outcome of the project. Typically the men would be very focused on the outcome, often to the exclusion of other things. They could be thinking of the things that they need to do and how they can move forward to reach the objective and that will be the extent of their focus. Women would be processing the information that’s coming in from the other members of the group and the context of the situation and any changing nuisances throughout the group. Their focus is on many more areas that they are feeding in to the big picture in their mind.

Leadership training at this level teaches us why; at times it may cause challenges and conflicts and why it’s really important to understand the set up of the brain. It’s not an excuse for poor people skills or anything like that but it is interesting to know that this is the set up and that in order to communicate you may need to channel into how another person is processing things. This works for both sexes both men need to understand how women are working and women need to understand how men are working from a brain predisposition perspective.

Looking at the other individuals that you work with and seeing how they work best and how can you best communicate with them – that’s the sign of a wonderful leader. The sign of great leadership training is when they teach you foundational components and then give you additional resources to enable you to be flexible in your approach to individuals. People are never just the anatomy of their brain but it’s very much the foundation and a great place to build on top of.

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