Val Ackerman: “Is Gender a Factor When It Comes to Leadership?”

Columbia University Professor and former President of the WNBA, Val Ackerman, has written an fantastic article for ESPN W entitled: “Is Gender a factor when it comes to leadership?”   Here is an excerpt, but for the entire article please go to the  link provided below.

The topic of leadership in the business world has been widely dissected, and in sports, as in other business segments, examples of both good leaders and bad leaders abound. I co-teach (with Neal Pilson, an eminently respected sports media executive) a class at Columbia University about leadership in the sports industry. In it, we address the styles and traits of good leaders, as well as the various disciplines (decision-making, communication, planning, etc.) that we believe leaders in sports would do well to master in order to be successful.
Interestingly enough, one of the dimensions of leadership that Neal and I have not explored in our class is gender. Neal likes to say that “leaders come in all shapes and sizes,” and if anything, our curriculum is gender-neutral — meaning that the traits and skills we cover can and should apply to any leader, men and women alike. For my part, I’ve deliberately made gender a non-issue with our students, choosing instead to focus on personal qualities (Are you an optimist? Can you hold up under pressure?), core competencies (Are you a good communicator? Do you know how to manage your time?) and substance (Do you understand profit and loss? How would you describe your target audience?) that would work for any and all. 
But having worked in the sports world for more than 20 years, and having seen the relative (and continued) scarcity of women in key roles, I often think about how gender plays into leadership in sports and whether it can be said that sports are, or could ever be, truly gender-neutral on this subject. . .  
 Thanks Val.  Great stuff.

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