Gender and the Universal Model – Mastering Leadership


For most leaders today, complexity is outpacing their personal and collective development. Most leaders are in over their heads, whether they know it or not. The most successful organizations over time are the best led.  While this has always been true, today escalating global complexity puts leadership effectiveness at a premium.

This week I am participating in the book launch of Mastering Leadership.  This book is different because it involves developing the effectiveness of leaders—individually and collectively—and turning that leadership into a competitive advantage. The book lays out a roadmap for optimal leadership and features:

  • Breakthrough research that connects increased leadership effectiveness with enhanced business performance
  • The first fully integrated Universal Model of Leadership—one that integrates the best theory and research in the fields of Leadership and Organizational Development over the last half century
  • A free, online self-assessment of your leadership, using the Leadership Circle Profile, visibly outlining how you are currently leading and how to develop even greater effectiveness
  • The five stages in the evolution of leadership—Egocentric, Reactive, Creative, Integral, and Unitive—along with the organizational structures and cultures that develop at each of these stages
  • Six leadership practices for evolving your leadership capability at a faster pace
  • A map of your optimal path to greater leadership effectiveness
  • Case stories that facilitate pragmatic application of this Leadership Development System to your particular situation

Mastering Leadership provides a systemic approach for developing your senior leaders and the leadership system of your organization. It does not recommend quick fixes, but argues that real development requires a strategic, long-term, and integrated approach in order to forge more effective leaders and enhanced business performance. Mastering Leadership offers a developmental pathway to bring forth the highest and best use of yourself, your life, and your leadership.  By more meaningfully deploying all of who you are every day, individually and collectively, you will achieve a leadership legacy consistent with your highest aspirations.

The following is Excerpted from Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results, by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams (Wiley, 2015).

Not only does the Universal Model integrate the fragmented field of Organizational and Leadership Development and honor cross-cultural and ethnic diversity, but it is also gender balanced. Since the horizontal axis of the Universal Model spans the polarity between Relationship and Task, the Model illustrates the different leadership orientations of men and women. This yin-yang or Feminine-Masculine framework allows us to explore the question: Do men and women lead differently?

We recently studied gender leadership differences seen in the LCP database. Table 6.3 shows the results for the Inner Circle Dimensions of Relating and Achieving—the Creative dimensions that define the Relationship–Task polarity. We included Caring Connection (a sub-dimension of Relating) as it shows the biggest difference between men and women. Table 6.3 also contains scores for the average of all Creative and Reactive dimensions. The Reactive-Creative Score combines both scores into one summary score to measure the degree to which a leader is showing up more Creatively or Reactively. Leadership Effectiveness is also included.

Across the board, women have higher Creative scores, and lower Reactive scores, than men. Combined, the Reactive-Creative Score shows a difference of .26. This difference, when normed against the entire rater-base, produces percentile scores where men average at the 40th percentile, while women average at the 59th percentile. Women are also rated slightly higher on Leadership Effectiveness. This difference suggests that there is a pent-up demand for what women bring to leadership. With this data, we can make a strong argument for gender diversity and inclusion and an even stronger case for more women in leadership.

Table 6.3 Gender differences

This data suggests that women are more effective leaders than men, or that at least they are rated higher on average. How significant are these differences? Effect size measures whether the difference between scores is likely to be experienced, at work, as a practical difference in the way that men and women lead. Effect sizes greater than .20 or less than -.20 begin to show practical differences in the way the genders show up as leaders, but researchers do not get excited until effect size is greater than +/-.35. Our researcher, Lani Van Dusen made this conclusion:

Several findings meet minimal requirements for practical significance, but only one is noteworthy. On the “Caring” dimension, the difference in the performance of males and females is practically significant (Effect Size = -0.39). This finding suggests that females score at the 60th percentile of the norm base and at the 66th percentile of male scores on this dimension. Women are exhibiting more Creative behaviors associated with this dimension than male counterparts.

The findings from the gender analyses, showing almost no practically significant differences in   the averaged ratings of males and females, suggest that what makes a leader effective tends to remain consistent across genders (and cultures). However, female leaders tend to perform slightly better in the Relating dimension and much higher on the Caring Connection competency. This suggests that female leaders have a natural proclivity to express skills in this area and higher social and emotional intelligence. And, their “soft” relationship skills assist them in showing up strong also on the results side.

Our experience of working with thousands of leaders suggests percentile score differences of 15 to 20 points (as measured in the 360° results for men and women) will impact performance. Women are bringing a much needed Creative contribution to business cultures. Since a highly engaged workforce is a competitive advantage, organizations are shifting from Patriarchal Cultures to Partnership Cultures. In this shift, the relational, emotional, and social intelligence of women leaders is much needed. In fact, the higher Relational and Creative evaluation of women leaders reflects their contribution to the shift in the leadership culture needed for high performance.


About the Book

Is your leadership a competitive advantage, or is it costing you? How do you know? Are you developing your leadership effectiveness at the pace of change?

For most leaders, complexity is outpacing their personal development and today’s escalating global complexity puts it at a premium. Mastering Leadership involves developing the effectiveness of leaders – individually and collectively – and turning that leadership into a competitive advantage.

This timeless text provides a systematic approach to developing your senior leaders and the leadership system of your organization – not with quick fixes, but with real development that requires a strategic, long-term, and integrated approach. Mastering Leadership offers a pathway to bring forth the best use of yourself, your life, and your leadership. Order your copy here or download a sample chapter.

About the Authors

Robert J. Anderson is a pioneer in the field of leadership development & research. He is the Founder and Chairman of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group; and creator of The Leadership Circle Profile.

Over the past 35 years, he has dedicated his career to exploring the intersections between leadership and mastery, competence and consciousness, spirituality and business. Bob holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from John Carroll University and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from Bowling Green State University. He serves as adjunct faculty for the Executive Education Center at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.

Bob and Kim, his wife of 32 years, make their home near Toledo, Ohio, but enjoy traveling the globe for both work and play with their three adult children.

William A. Adams is known for partnering with leaders to unlock breakthrough performance, develop deep leadership capability, and produce transformational business results. He is the CEO of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group; and co-author of several books, including The Whole Systems Approach and The Quest For Quality. His clients range from Fortune 500 corporations to start-ups across multiple industries. He sits on numerous boards in the for-profit, education, and non-profit worlds.

Bill holds a Master’s Degree in Interpersonal & Organizational Communication from the University of Montana. He and his wife live in Utah. The two are most at home in the outdoors, working with youth leadership and spending time with their four children and a growing crew of grandchildren.

They are coauthors of Mastering Leadership (Wiley). Visit or

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