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Gay Men Make The Best Bosses

Best Boss

We all know that being gay is awesome and we're great at most anything we put our minds to, so it should come as no surprise that we make some of the best bosses in the workforce according to a book profiled on Details.com. What gay men appear to do better than straight men in positions of authority is to actually respect subordinates as human beings with lives and problems and complications all their own and treat them with the level of compassion and understanding that they need to remain happy and effective, versus telling them to nut-up and get over it, whatever "it" may be.

The reason for this appears to stem from how most gay men grew up and subsequently came out. The constant navigation of social cues in high school to avoid or confront discrimination taught many how to adapt intuitively and be resilient, while the coming out process cemented the security one has in knowing one's self and thus largely don't feel the need to be the cliche asshole boss to assert dominance over others.

While it would seem like this is just masturbatory self-congratulation, there is research to give it credence. USC business-school professor Kirk Snyder spent five years studying American executives and wrote his findings in The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives Are Excelling as Leaders . . . and What Every Manager Needs to Know. What he found was that gay male bosses produce 35 to 60 percent higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, and morale than straight bosses. This is a huge deal given that the Saratoga Institute found that of 20,000 former workers who quit their jobs the behavior of their supervisors was the primary complaint.

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Comments

  1. I believe this is true, and I hope that it encourages more gay men to go into business. There is power in numbers.

    Posted by: Ted | Jan 11, 2014 12:40:56 PM


  2. I'd like to state that I'm in favor of masturbatory self-congratulation.

    Posted by: stranded | Jan 11, 2014 12:51:23 PM


  3. I think my worst boss was a gay man.

    Posted by: Grover Underwood | Jan 11, 2014 12:53:33 PM


  4. As a gay business/poli sci student, this is a very welcome article. Thanks Andy.

    Oh, and I agree with Stranded. Masturbatory self-congratulation has never hurt anyone (except when it did).

    Posted by: Jem (truly outrageous) | Jan 11, 2014 1:08:22 PM


  5. I work for a communications company and manage 7 employees. I do believe I'm more empathetic to their personal situations than others might be. Mostly I think I'm a good mentor to them.

    I know how I like to be treated as an employee and so that's the way I treat my employees. My department has flexible hours, we work from home when needed, and proper recognition of outstanding work. It's not rocket science.

    Posted by: the other Ken | Jan 11, 2014 1:13:03 PM


  6. I tried being a demanding jerk and the Mexicans revolted. You catch more flies with malathion.

    Posted by: Enchantra | Jan 11, 2014 1:22:05 PM


  7. I think it depends more on the individual rather than stereotyping a group of people, even if the stereotype this time is a positive trait.

    Posted by: starshipcaptain | Jan 11, 2014 1:25:45 PM


  8. Never had a gay (male) boss, so I can't say. The worst bosses I've ever had were women (3 of them, I hope that's just a coincidence), with 1 of them a closet lesbian who was downright evil.

    Posted by: Joseph | Jan 11, 2014 1:43:25 PM


  9. Unless your gay boss is like mine...a drama queen who MUST be the center of attention at all times, and hates that there are other gay guys in the office. He doesn't like the competition. He doesn't want to have to share the office hags with another guy. And most likely has internalize homophobia he still hasn't dealt with. I say that because this guy is younger than me, works out every day, and is in great shape. Which can get him a lot of the attention that he lives for. And I'm average--so it's not like I'm a threat to him in that area. But average or not, I do know how to relate to people and can make friends. It's like his being "gay" and working out are the only interesting things about himself and if another gay guy is around with a personality--he suddenly loses power. Basically, he hasn't matured and is not comfortable in his own skin yet. But won't make friends with other gay guys in or outside the office. Except for the ones he wants to sleep with. My boss goes out of his way to treat all the straights like they are his new best friend but, not me. And the office knows it and sees it too. I've tried making friends but he can't get past his own issues. How do you handle someone like that?

    Posted by: MmmHmm | Jan 11, 2014 1:52:30 PM


  10. A USC Business School professor's study says it is so. It must be true. Case closed. LOL!!!

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 11, 2014 2:00:28 PM


  11. This does not explain all the jerks you meet in the gay world. I think gay men must prove themselves more than straight men, so only better gay male managers climb the corporate ladder. Of course, this would apply to any minority in theory, but female bosses often do poorly in such studies. In order to explain that you have to apply some sort of secondary theory which casts everything in doubt.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 11, 2014 2:29:33 PM


  12. I worked for three bears that owned a classy independent bookstore. One was decent but rarely there, one was a horrid psycho steaming pile of evil but rarely there. The one that was hands-on was slightly vile. Goldilocks quit after 5 months. Yeah gays make the best bosses. Ha.

    Posted by: Quicksilver | Jan 11, 2014 2:29:36 PM


  13. Great article, and I believe it to be true. Gay men are more nurturing and understanding and kinder, by nature.
    But God help you if you have to work with a closet case, a boss or a fellow employee. If you're gay, they go right after you, fangs out. I've worked with a few, and NEVER again. Stick with someone who is sane and OUT of the closet.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Jan 11, 2014 3:02:19 PM


  14. I can tell you that straight women make the worst bosses. I wish that wasn't the case but have had three of them in my life so far and they were mediocre at best.

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 11, 2014 3:07:24 PM


  15. Note To MMMHMM: I know a gay man very similar to the one you've described, and yes, I've tried making friends with him too, but it doesn't work. People like him are riddled with deep insecurities because of their own homophobia, and they are likely to take it out on another gay person.
    The man I know is an attention-seeking jerk who is ALWAYS talking about himself and forms bad, co-dependent relationships with other people.
    You're better off to be brief and cordial and side-step him gracefully. If he gets to be too much then see HID superior. Good Luck. I know how you feel.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Jan 11, 2014 3:11:19 PM


  16. Even if this study is true overall, there is always variation, and some gay people are horrible bosses.

    I don't want this story to come across as "if your boss is gay, that's the best" because it ultimately depends on the person. A gay psychopath is no better than a straight one.

    I think I was a good manager (never had any employee or customer complain, met all the deadlines) but I'm certain someone else could have done it better. I didn't "manage upwards" successfully.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 11, 2014 3:19:34 PM


  17. Agree with Randy wholeheartedly.

    While I am a gay man, this survey obviously didn't include my boss who is gay as well; and who is the most egotistical, self-serving, ineffective boss I've ever had in my 30+ year career (and I've had straight men, straight women, lesbian women, and a bisexual male boss in my career lifetime). Not all gay men make great leaders.

    Posted by: K | Jan 11, 2014 3:56:00 PM


  18. Of course the gay male has long been accepted as the natural best in the fields of hairdressing, fashion design, floral arrangement, wedding planning, and front of house retail. It would truly be a great thing to see the gay male begin to conquer the larger business world. This article gives me hope that just as we have proven ourselves in those fields we can prove ourselves in others.

    Posted by: bicuriousus | Jan 11, 2014 4:10:08 PM


  19. Sam: That's because generally women who reach power positions adopt masculine attitudes and going to the extreem with them.

    Generally that type of women are the worst bosses, and they are specially bad with other women

    Posted by: jjose712 | Jan 11, 2014 4:18:46 PM


  20. I've had many female bosses and they can be either great and nurturing or simply the most vile, hateful boss you've ever seen. One lesbian boss basically put every single male in the office in subordinate positions and promoted only women, even when it was clear the women she promoted knew nothing about the work. One even came to me and said "I know you know way more than I do about this, so just ignore whatever I say in meetings and do what you want."

    Closeted gay bosses are even worse. One boss/owner stared at my crotch every time I went into his office and would have screaming fits when things didn't go exactly like he wanted, also began throwing things like chairs around. A total drama queen. His reputation got around town fast and soon nobody would work for him. The only art directors he could find designed coupons for a living and even they left! He now owns a three person ad agency and one of those people is his wife! How the might have fallen, Randy, how the might have fallen.

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 11, 2014 5:41:01 PM


  21. I too take issue with this. My best boss was a straight woman, the next best was a straight man, the next were a straight woman and gay man who were friendly enough but mediocre/ineffective, and the worst was a somewhat closeted gay man.

    It also depends on how you define "best," obviously---how they treat you or how effective they are in reaching the organization's goals. My order remains pretty much the same in either case, though the closeted guy was quite good at making money and worked insane hours (to avoid his insane wife, we all thought).

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 11, 2014 6:35:25 PM


  22. Gay men always overgeneralize.

    Posted by: HERMES | Jan 11, 2014 7:10:40 PM


  23. @ Hermes: haha.

    But c'mon, this sort of study is important when you consider that other less-rigorous "studies" or "surveys" assert that you'd LEAST want a gay boss. That's hogwash--but otherwise might seem like "conventional" wisdom.

    That said, see management as a mindset and skill that can be developed. I can't come up with any rational reason as to why someone's gender or sexuality or race, etc., inevitably helps or hurts their effectiveness (or even likeability) as a manager.

    I'm also a bit dumbfounded by all these assertions of closeted gay bosses who are so terrible. I can't help but presume these tales are at least partly motivated by internalized homophoa assigning "secretly gay" to someone you clash with for whatever reason.

    I also wonder if there isn't occasionally a "mean girls" sort of element among SOME gay men. But I think when this happens, it's mostly people who are stuck in a phase...of silliness. Give 'em time.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Jan 11, 2014 7:30:00 PM


  24. It's usually claimed females are more empathetic than males. Can someone please explain why the worse bosses by far I've had in my life have been middle aged women? Look up the phrase 'piece of work' and their pics should pop up. I've had a mixed bag of male bosses, but every female boss I've had has been a censored C-word. The only other defining factor was they were all middle aged. And they were despised even more by female employees.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 11, 2014 11:12:48 PM


  25. My best bosses were two straight women and a straight men. My worst were a lesbian and a gay man (reporting to that lesbian), and by worst, I mean so far down the scale, you couldn't see anyone else on it.

    Posted by: Mike W | Jan 12, 2014 12:04:11 AM


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