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The Athena Doctrine: How Women (And the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio

September 25, 2015


This book has at its core a very important premise—there is a shift happening in today’s world, and the values most required of modern leaders are those traditionally considered “feminine” traits. Honesty, empathy, communication and collaboration are replacing rugged individualism, competition and self-assertion. The authors conducted a massive global survey to identify the traits people prefer in their leaders, and they supply 200+ pages of anecdotal material based on interviews from around the world.

The problem is that the “feminine” label, while provocative (it implies a bit of a battle of the sexes), is little more than a convenient way of describing and categorizing values. The bulk of the book—the anecdotes—are tangential and unfortunately tedious. They sometimes support the assertion that “feminine” values are important, but could just as easily support a number of other assertions on successful leadership. Where the authors miss the boat is that they fail to identify the macro trends (technological, economic and social) that have contributed to this rise of these values. A case could be made that Millennials bear out the “feminine” value system, but the data is never sliced generationally. Only in the conclusion is very vague gesture made toward a generational shift.

The authors are too caught up in showing off their research and give short shrift to its implications and applications. The principles in this book are critical, but unfortunately the book itself would have been better as an article or TED talk.

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