Personally, I would like a teddy bear. They are soft, you can snuggle with it, and they are cute. Sharks on the other hand, not so much. I am sure they are great animals, just not in my house. So, what is your answer? Why the question in the first place? What does this have to do with the nonprofit sector? Well, let me tell you.
A recent study from the University of Toronto was published about faces of leaders in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. The results of the three different studies were that “facial features of successful non-profit CEOs are noticeably different from leaders of for-profit companies.” Guess which one was the teddy bear and which one was the shark?! If you picked teddy bear for nonprofits, you’d be correct.
For the study, 169 participants were shown black and white head-shots of CEOs. They were asked to rank on “dominance, likability, facial maturing, trustworthiness, leadership, age, attractiveness, and happiness.” Scores were grouped together to determine what they called “power” and “warmth.” The for-profit CEO faces were scored as more “powerful” than nonprofit CEOs.
Daniel Re, co-author of the study, said that cut-throat sharks may not be the key to good leadership and “people who come off as more powerful won’t get as far or do as well working at non-profits.” My favorite quote from Re is – “[it’s] not necessarily that non-profits are picking softer-looking people, it’s that such people – perhaps drawn to working for a nobler cause…”
Long story short – get your organization a teddy bear.