Female strengths that make us damn good leaders (and why we need to stop trying to 'act like a man')!
Female strenths that make us damn good leaders (and why we need to stop trying to 'act like a man')!
According to the latest independent reviews into women in the highest leadership roles in the UK, a measly 27.7% of (exec and non-exec) directors seats of the FTSE 100 companies are held by women. And even worse, just 1.4% of the Top 350 UK Companies have two or more female executive directors.
It’s no wonder that the world of business is still very much a ‘man’s world’ - despite there also being extensive research to show that companies that have women on their boards, perform financially better than those that do not.
As is the case with anything, diversity and collaboration is key. Men and women bring different strengths to the table - neither are any better than the other, they’re just different. We need to get out of this mindset that men are ‘stronger’ business leaders, simply because they are always seen to display more ‘aggressive’ and dominant behaviours and traits.
We need to stop thinking that we have to ‘act like a man’ in order to be successful. We have a lot to bring to that theoretical - and sometimes physical - table with the female qualities that we naturally possess. We need to stop ignoring these female traits, and start to utilise them to our advantage because they make us pretty damn good leaders.
Compassion, Empathy & Collaboration.
Historically, employers have resorted to ramping up the pressure on their employees in order to increase and improve their performance, when what it actually does (as I’m sure we’ve all experienced) is increase stress levels which, in a worst-case scenario, can see employees move on from a business. What new research has shown however, is that when managers implement and promote a culture of compassion, it leads to a happier, more productive workforce.
As women, it is more natural for us to sit down with our staff and colleagues, and ensure that they feel safe, comfortable and happy. We have this 'nurturing' side to us - that is in no way weak, as it is often mistaken for.
Women are also more likely to extend this and create inclusive, more team oriented leadership styles that involve the whole team in problem solving and decision making - which in turn, enables the team to feel more involved in the wider business and more motivated to work.
Similarly, a womens empathy can go a long way in not only developing vital professional relationships, but it has also been proven to assist in negotiating - as it enables us to have a better understanding of our partners interests.
Like everything, men and women possess naturally different communication styles. Often, women are 'warmer' in theirs - they hold more eye contact, will nod in encouragement (not just agreement) and will give more visual reactions when listening to others. Women also tend to be better at reading someone else's body language and non-verbal cues, meaning we excel in collaborative environments, as well as being at an advantage when managing a team. It also enables us to pick up on other people's reactions - and if we are being misunderstood, we can notice this instantly, meaning we can then adjust our strategy accordingly to get our arguments across more effectively.
Innovation & creativity.
As women, it is known that we think more holistically:
"That means, when women view a situation, they have a tendency go beyond the specific facts and the numbers to take into account personnel and organization considerations. As a result, they identify opportunities, risks, and gaps that others often miss, strengthening their competitive edge."
Being a female leader can also, in some of the more 'traditionally run' businesses, be innovation in itself. However, because we do think differently to our male counterparts, we are often able to ask different - but vital - questions about problems, assess relevant information, and then think more creatively to come up with a solution and a more well-reasoned conclusion.
Essentially, we need to remember that we can make just as good managers, bosses and leaders as men. Just because we don't naturally posses more 'dominant' behaviours that are so typically associated with the people in the top positions, it doesn't mean that we can't lead or get there, too. We simply possess different characteristics. Characteristics that we need to start utilising and using to our advantage to be successful.