Merge's Blog

Do men and women have the same approach to taking risks?

In her book Lean In, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to “lean in”, to “be more open to taking risks in their careers” since “being risk averse can result in stagnation.”  She suggests that women need to “overcorrect” from their current risk-averse position in order to “find the middle ground”.  Earlier this week, Professor Karl Moore at McGill University’s Faculty of Management (and my fellow columnist at The Globe & Mail) penned an article about just the opposite, how men need to “lean out”.  Together with his student Shaun Collins, they make the case for why men “need to ‘overcorrect’ from their excessive risk-taking towards a more calculated neutral position”.  This point of view that not only caught my attention, but also echoed what I repeatedly hear from leaders (both male and female) in client companies.  Read the article here:

Men, it’s time for you to Lean Out

The authors’ argument is that women, because of their risk-averse perspective, are willing to question their ability to take on new tasks, or perform different roles – they are willing to ask themselves, honestly – do I have the right skills and temperament?  Men, on the other hand – because of male pride or even just over-confidence – are less likely to examine whether they have the relevant experience or are “biting off more than they can chew”.

Well, what do you think?  Do women need to “lean in”?  Would men be better off by “leaning out”?  Your thoughts welcomed.

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