Why do we like to be afraid

Women are more cooperative, more willing to compromise and more far-sighted than men - this is what the psychologist and management coach Werner Dopfer is convinced of. In his book "Mama-Trauma - Why Men Don't Let Women Lead Them", he complains that there are still so few female bosses in Germany. Many men still prefer to keep to themselves. And why? Because they are afraid of strong women.

SZ.de: Mr. Dopfer, in your book you state that men, driven by competitive and performance-oriented thinking, also like to cheat on a large scale in an organized manner. Would there never have been the financial crisis or the VW scandal if there were more women in the management ranks?

Werner Dopfer: Current research suggests that. To a certain extent, women are a guarantee of fairness and sustainability, they are less prone to megalomania and less often try to assert their own interests. Women tend to want to minimize risks and feel intuitively when something is wrong.

Are these biologically feminine traits or are they more learned habits?

Both. This is a gender-specific predisposition, but intuition is also much more encouraged in the upbringing of girls.

And female intuition makes women better bosses?

Amongst other things. The female leadership style tends to be more willing to compromise and cooperative and is therefore more suitable for our modern and networked world in which we are all dependent on one another. People today want to participate and be treated fairly. They no longer want to be led by authoritarian despots or narcissistic self-promoters.

But are we not experiencing exactly the opposite with the rise of populists like Trump or authoritarian leaders like Erdo─čan?

In times of crisis, people like to cry out for a strong man. Many fall back into old patterns and choose the supposedly simpler solution instead of dealing with a problem constructively. This is actually psychologically paradoxical, because a strong man automatically leads to other even stronger men who then produce even more crises. You can see that very clearly in the efforts to end the war in Syria. The German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who relies on negotiation and diplomacy, is presumably desperate for the sheer male display.

In contrast, how would you describe Angela Merkel's management style?

In my opinion, the Chancellor's leadership style is characterized by prudence, patience and perseverance. She looks for common solutions but is also guided by ethical ideas - that is her recipe for success. Your spontaneous "We can do it" about the refugee crisis did not correspond to this far-sighted leadership behavior. You were not used to such emotional expressions from her. That is why it was so heavily criticized from all sides.

Then the men felt confirmed that a woman cannot be a suitable head of government. But where does the fear of men of powerful women come from?

A fundamental fear in men is becoming less important. In addition, many are afraid of the loss of performance and of feminine emotionality. These central fears are shaken when a woman sets the tone. Men are just not used to sharing power with women. Historically, the situation is still relatively new.