George Kohlrieser on Social Bonding and Gender
George Kohlrieser is an organizational and clinical psychologist, a professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at The International Institute for Management Development (IMD), and consultant to global organizations around the world.
His research, teaching, and consulting activities are focused on high performance leadership, high performance teamwork, conflict management, change management, dialogue and negotiation, coaching, stress management, work life balance, and personal and professional development. He is also a Police Psychologist and Hostage Negotiator focusing on aggression management and hostage negotiations. Kohlrieser is founder and director of Shiloah International, a consultancy offering integrated programs to a wide range of organizations. He has worked in some eighty-five countries in North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, Middle East, Asia, India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Kohlrieser completed his doctorate at Ohio State University where he wrote his dissertation on cardio vascular recovery of law enforcement leaders following high stress situations. He is also the author of a recent book entitled Hostage At The Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance.
Question: Are men hard-wired for poor bonding?
Kohlrieser: Yeah, yeah. It’s a sad story when we look at social bonding, that males do not do as well. 85% of all the violence in the world was committed by males, not females. Although females can be very violent, never forget that. And it goes back to some of the fundamental processes around how relationships work. As a matter of fact, the research is leaning in the direction that women are better leaders than men because it’s a paradigm for leadership is about how to create relationship, how to build bonds. Women have a slight edge over that. Now, that doesn’t mean men can’t do it. The great leaders who are male, you’ll see they also create bonds. It is no longer the paradigm of power domination. That may have been true 15, 20 years ago, no longer. And the death rates, men die 8 to 12 years earlier than women. And, again, one of the fundamental reasons there is the males inability to go through grief and re-bond. Loneliness is one of the highest risk factors you can have for cardiovascular disease or even for immunology diseases. So you have to understand that this fundamental bonding, grieving, re-bonding process is at the root. Males tend to be more, in their mind’s eye, focused on aggression and competition, territoriality. Women tend to be more person focused, more people focused. And there’s always this balance in great leadership. Can I assert myself with respect and bonding? And women have to learn how to be more assertive perhaps. Males have to learn more about how to create stronger bonds.
While men could learn the value of human bonds, women could be more assertive, George Kohlrieser advises.