In our society, women generally understand the soft power of attraction better than men, but the opposite of the Big Man is not the Sensitive Woman. Even if communications-based societies are more open to "feminine" styles of leadership, it is a mistake to identify the new type of leadership we need by using gender stereotypes.
We need to see leaders less in heroic terms of command than in terms of encouraging participation throughout an organization, group, or network. Questions about appropriate leadership styles revolve around when to use hard and soft power. These skills are equally relevant for men and women, and should not be clouded by traditional gender stereotypes.
George W. Bush famously described his leadership style as "the decider," but he was often decisively wrong. How a leader decides, whom he consults, and when he acts in different contexts are the relevant tests. Adept leadership depends not on stereotypes of style but on how individuals combine hard and soft power skills to produce smart strategies. That is what our new president will need to demonstrate if he wishes to be successful and regain public confidence.
Joseph S. Nye Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author of The Powers to Lead (Oxford University Press)