THE BLOG

Why Gay Men Are Outperforming the Good-Old-Boys in Business

05/30/2006 09:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

All across the U.S. economy, from corporate America to small business, gay men are proving they have what it takes to be today's preferred organizational leaders. After recently completing a five-year research project spanning more than 3,000 working professionals all over the country, I found reported levels of job engagement, job satisfaction and workplace morale among employees reporting to white-collar gay men to be upwards of 35% higher than nationally reported statistics. As the foundation of my new business leadership book, The G Quotient (Jossey-Bass/Wiley), it's further proof that good-old-boy business practices are no longer effective in an era defined by information and connectivity.

Consider that over the last ten years, polls from some of the world's most respected names in business have documented the dramatic decline in how American workers feel about their employers. For example, a report at the end of 2005 from Towers Perrin, the largest study ever completed on the state of the global workforce, found that only 21 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs amidst feelings of "frustration and skepticism" about their organizational leaders. Middle managers in particular are increasingly dissatisfied with how their companies are being managed. According to an Accenture study also conducted at the end of last year, fewer than half report feeling positive about their own employers -- a decline of nearly 20 percent over the same survey just one year earlier.

More informed, connected and diverse than ever before in the history of the world of work, contemporary employees are no longer responding to leadership that doesn't recognize them as valuable key contributors -- regardless of their organizational roles. Indeed, life in the digital age has empowered all of us to acquire specialized knowledge about our respective fields and industries and view our employing organizations and leaders in their professional nakedness. Quite simply, in today's business landscape the CEO has no clothes.

So what does being gay or male have to do with successful business leadership? The reason gay men are outperforming the good-old-boys in business is due to a new paradigm for effective leadership that is proving to meet the needs and values of today's empowered workforce. Identified as the G Quotient, it is seven leadership principles rooted in the professional worldview of gay men that develops through learned skills such as adaptability, intuitive communication and creative problem solving. In the workplace, these principles are responsible for generating unprecedented levels of professional commitment among their employees. In fact, it's why 84 percent of more than one thousand employees reporting to gay men across four major economic sectors report high morale within their working environments -- compared to 40 percent nationally.

G Quotient leadership tracks with the recalibration of today's business landscape utilizing principles such as inclusiveness, creativity and collaboration as connecting points between managers and employees. It's about authenticity and transparency, and believing that all people have individual value. It's about creating a true meritocracy where people will rise or fall based on their abilities and hard work -- not on their gender, skin color or sexual orientation. In fact, to draw a political comparison, I believe it's these same connecting points, or should I say lack thereof, that are in large part responsible for the current administration's nose-diving approval ratings. As the self-appointed CEO of America, it's an interesting irony that George Bush and company might actually be able to learn something from successful gay men in business. Perish the thought.

So do you have to be a gay male to be a G Quotient leader? Absolutely not. In fact, my research identified G Quotient leaders among straight women and lesbians as well as straight men. However, I found the propensity to manage based on the seven identified G Quotient principles to be the strongest among non-closeted gay men who have found the freedom to build careers in their own shoes. In many ways, G Quotient leadership is a manifestation of living in a globalized and connected world where authenticity and transparency have become more than valued behaviors. In today's new world of work they are mandatory ingredients for success. The American workforce, just like the American citizenry, is starved for truthfulness and inclusion.