Leadership, Cognitive Complexity, and Gender



This paper uses two theories of adult development to frame an exploration of gender and leadership. In the last decade, the definition of an effective leader has shifted from charismatic decision maker to steward, designer, and builder of learning organizations. During the same period, some researchers have suggested that women are inherently more suited to these new leadership approaches. Drawing on Kegan’s theory of development, we propose that the qualities that make for effective new-style leadership are a function not of gender, but of complexity of mind. However, we also draw on the model of Women’s Ways of Knowing to suggest that, assuming the requisite cognitive complexity, women’s greater capacity for relational-based approach to knowing and learning may make them more effective in the new leadership roles.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
This entry was posted in Adult development, Cognitive complexity, Gender, Leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.