This past week there was an interesting article in The Atlantic that quoted the Dalai Lama as saying that “The world needs leaders with compassion.” And in his mind, that means “the world needs more female leaders.”
The article referred to research that has been done on the subject of gender and compassion, most notably, a study done last year by British ethicist Roger Steare. He administered the “Moral DNA test” to over 60,000 volunteers in 200 countries, and concluded that “women make decisions based on how they impact others—which tends to produce better decisions. Men, concluded Steare, are more self-interested.”
What I find particularly interesting is that it is this self-interest that makes men more likely to reach leadership positions. They have the savvy to understand that it takes more than talent and hard work to get ahead. They know how to navigate the realities of the workplace and tap into the politics. Their self-interest helps them to focus on their career goals and take action to reach those goals.
Women, on the other hand, are more compassionate. We try to please others and make decisions based on how those decisions impact others. So, we may make better leaders because we see the bigger picture, but the fact remains that our lack of self-interest may keep us from advancing to leadership roles.
I think that we, as women, can be stingy. We have so much to offer our companies, our community, and the world. When we remain in the background due to our concern to please others and our lack of ambition, we are doing a disservice to those we can potentially lead.
The world’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is now calling for more female leaders to lead the world with compassion. Will you answer the call?
Isn’t it time that we embrace our talent and ambition and learn how to position ourselves to assume leadership roles? The time is right for women to lead, to lead with the compassion that will save our businesses, our communities and the world.