Governance

Leadership 3.0 fits women like a glove

February 24, 2016

Only few women reach "the top" in the Netherlands. Too few. However, Oscar David, organizational psychologist and lecturer, has a positive view of the Women Corporate Directors Program. "Women are much better suited to the kind of leadership that is needed now."

You are specialized in leadership and power. Do you distinguish three models of power?

That's correct. Power 1.0 is very basic: the survival of the fittest. The strongest ape on the ape rock. Research shows that men are naturally more inclined to act according to the Power 1.0 model than women. Power 2.0 is about rules and "checks and balances." And there is Power 3.0, which focuses on people. The ability to exercise power as a service.

What model of power dominates in our modern society?
An evolution is underway in the world, including in the field of leadership. What you see now is that Power 3.0 is becoming increasingly important. This perfectly suits the new innovative society where organizations have flatter structures. Moreover, a new generation is emerging that is averse to having hierarchy in organizations. A good example is ING Netherlands, which has reorganized its headquarters and is working with "tribes" in order to generate creative ideas. This is a very flat structure to encourage creativity.

What does this trend mean for the number of women at the top?
The leadership style that best suits the emerging leadership needs is Leadership 3.0. Seen from the power model women are better suited for it. It requires listening skills and the ability to connect. Of course, you do not want to generalize in this type of proposition, but I am certainly optimistic about how this will affect the numbers of women at the top. The new kind of leadership that is needed is eminently suited for the female leader.

Relatively few women were involved in the recent scandals over fraud and abuse of power at the top. Can you explain that in terms of the power model?
Men are naturally more inclined to wield Power 1.0 because they have more testosterone. Women are less driven by this. In general, leaders who are guided less by Power 1.0 are more successful in the long run.

One example is entering into a merger. This is mainly driven by men, less by women. Without too much generalization, women opt more often for creating a safe climate. They are less inclined to go for risky undertakings such as mergers. Studies show that organizations often fail to benefit from a merger.

You are a teacher in the Women Corporate Directors Program. When is your contribution successful?
Leadership is an art and a skill that requires dedication and enthusiasm. I feel I have succeeded when the female participants demonstrate their ability to take a (more) critical look at their own leadership issues. And besides, I will have handed them new, immediately applicable tools which can help them, with a lot of motivation, lift their own leadership to the next level.

Oscar David is one of the teachers at the TIAS Women Corporate Directors Program: The Next Generation, the ambitious program for women who want to grow toward the top of organizations. 

Read more about this program

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