Something slightly different this week. On Friday it’s International Women’s Day and a great opportunity to celebrate the amazing women out there and the gifts they bring.
Having a Y chromosome or not shouldn’t really be an indication of whether you will make a great leader.
Your leadership abilities should depend on your individual strengths and personality traits. However, in many cases, women aren’t always encouraged to take on leadership roles as often as their male counterparts. I know this can be market specific; however, as a rule, this is the case.
Huffington Post published an article some time ago which highlighted the fact that only 23 Fortune 500 companies were led by a woman. Shocked? I know, so was I.
Let’s be authentic; men and women are different. We have different motivations and drivers which makes for a rich tapestry in what we can achieve for ourselves and our organisations.
Men as a generalisation tend to be career-centric and want to maximise their financial return from work. Women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan.
So, what gifts do women leaders bring?
Here, in no particular order, are a few to consider.
They Appreciate Work–Life Balance
Though this might sound cliched; it’s time for more balance in the workplace. The hustle and grind mentality of Elon Musk and Gary Vaynerchuck might be popular, however at what cost? At the end of last year, I wrote a post about employee burnout which resulted in some private emails from various individuals.
My experience as a female leader and delivering leadership training for many years is that women can balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s easier to approach a female leader with a personal request; they get that saying yes will be ‘paid back’ by the individual concerned many times over.
They care about their team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance.
They Are Empathetic
In a similar view to a balanced approach, they are empathetic. Remember empathy and sympathy are quite different.
Empathetic leaders can relate to the emotions and experience of others and then lead them through to understanding a situation and handling it despite what is going on around them; a much more active approach.
Sympathy on the other hand is more passive and relates to understanding and support without any true action.
They Are Natural Communicators
I attended a personal development course some time ago that shared a couple of figures about male and female communication. As a data freak, I couldn’t get the specific reference. However, a team from Maryland University have validated some of what was shared.
Apparently, women speak about 20,000 words a day – some 13,000 more than the average man. Intuitively I think this is probably about right 😉
Communication is our thing, and we are pretty good at it! Whether communicating with employers, co-workers, or partners, an open communication stream allows for clarity in executing roles and responsibilities.
They Handle Problems Well
We solve problems both in and out of the home on a regular basis, which spills over into the workplace too.
As women, we often have children to look after or elderly parents and so become natural care givers. This gives us the knowledge, skills and experience to handle most situations in a calm, considered way.
These traits and abilities can be put to incredibly good use in the workplace when the proverbial hits the fan, and an employee isn’t happy, or a client is complaining.
They Make It Look Easy
Now I am not saying men don’t make being a leader look easy. However, when you have had conversations with the many women leaders I have, you would be in awe with what they can achieve despite what is happening in their personal or family life.
As a rule, we are resilient; we embrace our emotional intelligence and use it in every situation we can. We prefer a down to earth approach related to what works best for as many people as possible.
Let’s be honest; it isn’t easy either. Look back at the start of this post and the alarming fact that only 23 female leaders are at the helm of Fortune 500 organisations.
Women make great leaders because to get there in the first place it’s likely the effort involved was incredible.
All hail to my fellow women leaders.
Until next time,
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