Do Men or Women Make Better Bosses?

Sunday's New York Times "Room for Debate" blog post on whether women make better bosses drew hundreds of heated comments from readers, some outraged by the question in the first place, many strictly in favor of either male managers or female ones.

Thing is, so many workers have so little faith in the people they work for, be they male or female. Earlier this year, 52 percent of 3,000 U.S. employees and managers polled by international staffing firm Randstad said there aren't enough qualified managers in their organization.

Unfortunately, failing miserably as a manager is much more of a burden for women, said Jan Combopiano, vice president and chief knowledge officer of Catalyst, a nonprofit that researches women in the workplace.

"If a man fails, you're not going to think it's because of his gender," she said. But, she explained, that's not necessarily the case if a female boss falls flat on her face.

There's no denying that, in general, men and women have different communication styles. (Witness the dozens of letters in my inbox about less-than-nurturing male managers and female bosses who have difficulty giving a direct order.) Yet any workplace consultant will tell you that managing well is a skill that can be learned, no matter what your anatomy.

"We're never going to make men into women and vice versa," said Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives. "We really need both ways of seeing, both ways of thinking. We need the male focus, and we need women's ability to multitask."

In other words, men and women need to collaborate in the workplace and draw on each other's strengths, not try to change every last trait of each other.

"When men are sitting there watching a football game and you walk in naked, they aren't going to see you," Spence said. "We're just going to need to accept it. And use it. Because that focus is necessary in business."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com.

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