Women Don’t Take Risks Like Men

They determined the single most important thing about leadership is the ability to take risks. If you can’t take risks you can’t lead.

What happened next angered Alyse Nelson, President and CEO of Vital Voices. The group of high-level leaders from around the world said women don’t take risks.

Bold but different:

Nelson composed a list of female leaders she knew and determined they were risk-adept. The group was dead wrong. She writes in her book, Vital Voices:

“Risk is necessary for transformative change…”

 “…We have found that contrary to gender stereotypes, women are incredibly risk-adept. However, … they take risks in very different ways from men.”

Nelson suggests female leaders take calculated risks:

  1. In response to need, as opposed to aggressive risks in response to opportunity.
  2. To improve the lives of others.
  3. Out of necessity when their backs are against the wall.
  4. They feel power to make impact.
  5. Under the radar rather than publicly.

“Women take risks when there’s an opportunity for community good.” Alyse Nelson

Personal observation:

Male leaders tended to take risks publicly and expect others to be inspired by their boldness. It works for the short-term. On the other hand, collaborative-boldness builds alliances that stabilize risk-taking and sustain long-term impact.  Build risk-taking-alliances in private before going public.

How have you seen women lead with boldness?

How is female boldness different from male boldness?

Note: This post deals in generalities. This isn’t an all or nothing conversation. However, if men and women are the same, diversity loses its advantage.