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 / Autumn 2006 / Issue 44(originally published by Booz & Company)


Books in Brief

The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives Are Excelling as Leaders…and What Every Manager Needs to Know
By Kirk Snyder
Jossey-Bass, 2006
206 pages, $24.95

Leadership skills are best developed on the job through particular kinds of experience — tough assignments, significant bosses, and hardships. In The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives Are Excelling as Leaders…and What Every Manager Needs to Know, teacher and consultant Kirk Snyder suggests that another kind of experience unexpectedly develops leadership skills: the gay experience. He asks us to look beyond any attitudes we might have about homosexual orientation to focus on his research, which suggests that gay executives who have publicly acknowledged their sexuality create workplaces where people feel much more engaged in their work activities.

Mr. Snyder identifies seven principles for developing the skills of “G Quotient Leadership,” or leadership with the kind of sensitivity that encourages engagement and participation. These principles are inclusion, creativity, adaptability, connectivity, communication, intuition, and collaboration. He gives us examples of how gay executives use each of these principles in practice and why each is important to engage any employee in his team and his work. Job satisfaction and workplace morale are much higher for gay employees than they are for the average employee nationally, according to his research.

Mr. Snyder’s vehicle for presenting his research is a two-part book that outlines the seven principles plus 10 aspects of “G Quotient” leadership that are important to all managers. (The appendix contains instruments for assessing one’s own G Quotient together with averages and ranges of scores for both straight and gay populations of men and women.) In discussing the 10 key takeaways for managers, the author suggests that G Quotient leadership shares a systems-oriented view of the workplace that resonates on a larger scale with philosophies like Taoism. This type of leadership is both objective and subjective, and emphasizes experiential learning over planning.

Thus, G Quotient leaders are often found in the trenches, leading through inspiration and focusing on the positive characteristics of employees. In this essentially entrepreneurial process, G Quotient leaders understand and value themselves, for they have had to come to terms with themselves in often painful ways. Trusting and knowing themselves helps them trust others. Mr. Snyder contends that this leadership style constitutes a competitive advantage for those, whether gay or straight, who will be leading Generation Y in the 21st century.

Reprint No. 06312

Author Profile:

David K. Hurst ([email protected]) is a contributing editor of strategy+business. His writing has also appeared in the Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times, and other leading business publications. Mr. Hurst is the author of Learning from the Links: Mastering Management Using Lessons from Golf (Free Press, 2002).
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