Not-So-Serious Question: Are Men Too Emotional For Leadership Positions?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh raised many important issues about his nomination to the Supreme Court during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Issues like: Why is this happening to me? And: I went to Yale, and I like beer a lot. All valid points.

But an even more interesting point came to light when viewers compared Kavanaugh’s emotional ranting with the careful, calm and accommodating demeanor of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first of multiple women to come forward and accuse the now-Supreme Court Justice of sexual assault.

In a serious environment such as this, Kavanaugh’s defensiveness, anger and entitlement presented a salient question: Are men too emotional for leadership positions? It’s one I’ve contemplated before—which is why I’m here to share my own take on the seven character traits that I believe make men particularly unsuited for leadership positions.

Protestors seized on Kavanaugh’s fury during his testimony and called on the Senate to hold him to higher standards of judicial temperament. (NJ Working Families / NJ Believes Survivors)

#1: Uncontrollable Emotions

Kavanaugh volleyed during his testimony between yelling about his alma mater—Yale, in case you missed it—and crying repeatedly while talking about sports, lifting weights and his detailed calendars. Although it’s certainly valid to hold strong feelings about mementos, why do men like him struggle with keeping these emotions in check?

If men can’t control their emotions, what’s to stop them from yelling or crying during an important meeting with a client? It’s a distinct possibility, and a risk most companies shouldn’t take.

#2: Inability to Smile

Smiling has been shown to not only promote a more healthy work environment, but also to bring about feelings of genuine happiness on the part of the smiler. So why don’t men smile more?

The most Kavanaugh could muster during his testimony was a wince or a guffaw, but he mostly just sneered. Why aren’t men more pleasant? The distinct coldness emanating from most men can trigger feelings of hopelessness and burnout on a team, and can make it hard to recruit new talent.

If men can’t learn to smile more, they certainly shouldn’t be given leadership positions in any company.

#3: Sexual Harassment Risk

The #MeToo movement has proven that sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread. That’s a big deal for the women dealing with unwanted advances and other creepy behavior at work—and it’s also a big matter for any company’s bottom line.

The resulting lawsuits from harassment cases cost American businesses millions—from $13 million by Fox News over Bill O’Reilly to $168 million in California in 2012—and undoubtedly result in hours of lost productivity per year. 

Should men really be given more power in the workplace, given how prone they seem to be to wielding that power in detrimental ways? Ways which will more than likely lead to the financial ruin of the company?

Probably not.

#4: Inability to Realize They Didn’t Come Up With That Idea on Their Own

What is it about other people’s ideas that make men so averse to them? Why is it that when a man agrees to something, it must be something he feels he came up with on his own, even if he didn’t?

Many women have to purposefully bend over backwards to carefully suggest ideas instead of telling men what to do—so that the man will think they came up with it on their own. This is an enormous waste of time and resources that will no doubt affect any bottom line, and likely cause many women to stew in their own rage!

During his opening statement at the Judiciary Committee hearing, Kavanaugh reiterated over and over again that his statement was his own and he had no help with it, and that he got into Yale on his own with no help from anyone.

What’s wrong with help, Brett?

#5: Overconfidence in Their Own Abilities

The concept of admitting that you don’t know something is somewhat foreign to most men.  When Blasey Ford didn’t know the answer to a question, she did a remarkable thing: she said, “I don’t know.” On the other hand, men often say they have knowledge or expertise they don’t even remotely have.

Now, this can ultimately be a good thing—if they can “fake it ‘till they make it,” and actually make it. But what if they don’t? What if you have a man that stalls and dodges, desperately trying not to be exposed for his numerous blackouts during high school and college? Then you wind up with a man in a leadership position willing to risk the entire company before exposing the gaps in his expertise.

Happens every time.

#6: Inability to Apologize

Women apologize to everyone and everything—yes, even inanimate objects. I once saw a woman bump into a chair and then apologize to the chair.

Men, on the other hand, have so much to apologize for—yet never do. Kavanaugh finally apologized for getting combative with Senator Amy Klobuchar at the hearings about the allegations of sexual assault facing him, but only after someone told him he should. Amazing!

If men would only apologize half as much as women do, they might be better suited to positions where they have to show remorse, take responsibility and face consequences—like leadership positions. Can we really push forward with a leader who is incapable of doing these things? I’m sorry, but it’s a nope from me.

#7: Inability to See Sexism (Unless it’s Directed Toward Them)

If you’re a man reading this, all of this might seem incredibly sexist to you.

Well, welcome to our world.

Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian, speaker, and author of new book How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings. She built her comedy career in between working for companies like Yahoo! and Google, where she was fed free lunches and lots of material. She is the creator of the satirical blog TheCooperReview.com, and author of bestselling book 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. Learn more about Sarah at sarahcpr.com or connect with her on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.

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