Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Empowerment (2)

My friend didn’t expect part 1 of this blog as my answer to her question on empowerment. She kept asking me how I thought about equal opportunities and equal pay for women in top positions. It’s important to realise that I don’t believe in equality in this specific context, simply because no one is equal – or should be. See my 2015 blogs on Equality (part 1part 2).

I asked my friend which candidate a company should pick: the best candidate or a woman? She opted for the first. That implies that she doesn’t believe in positive discrimination. Neither do I. It also implies that this discussion is really about equal qualifications. Equal qualifications may exist in exceptional situations but not in general.

According to the Economist, more than 90% of the world’s businesses are family businesses. These privately owned companies are in for the long-term. Hence, they must appoint the best candidate in order to protect their interests. That leaves less than 10% of businesses in which other considerations could prevail. These other criteria could indeed still rule in certain countries with a macho, masculine or patriarchal culture – like my friend’s country.

Fighting the appointments in the less than 10% is one option. Another option is to start your own company. Obviously, I asked my friend why she doesn’t want to be CEO in her own company. She complained about funding. As her profession doesn’t require much capital expenditure or working capital, money cannot be the real reason.

After many years of consideration, I realized I didn’t want a CEO role, whether in private or public companies. The CEO job requires a personality structure which I do not have and also do not want to have. Also see my 14 April 2015 blog. Furthermore, being CEO requires making even more hours than being CFO. Lastly, informal power has its own advantages.

Leadership requires certain characteristics. Psychology Today: “Throughout most of the animal kingdom, leadership is based on size and power: The leader of a group of chimpanzees is simply a big bully, who threatens the other group members into submission. Some human leaders, such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Uganda’s Idi Amin, and Russia’s Joseph Stalin, have tended to follow this model as well.” The same can be said of some CEOs.

Most people do not fit in leadership roles, regardless of gender. The remuneration of leadership roles may create envy in the minds of some. Once you really know these roles, you will lose your envy. Many years ago, a team member asked me how I put up with the pressure in my Finance Director job. She said that she could never do what I did. She preferred her own job and go home at 4.30 PM. Then I didn’t really understand her. Now I do.

The discussion about empowerment of women in CEO roles is opaque on so many levels. Firstly, it’s only about the less than 10% public companies. Secondly, if the best candidate should prevail then the discussion should be about equal qualifications rather than equal gender. Thirdly, the CEO role requires a personality structure that is not the most appealing one in society. Seriously, who wants to be The Boss once you really know that role??

The Boss (1979) by Diana Ross – artist, FBlyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I was so right (so right)

So right

Thought I could turn emotion

On and off

I was so sure

So sure (I was so sure)

But love taught me

Who was, who was, who was the boss


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