What gives companies the leading edge?
Research has shown that companies do better with women on the governing boards. But considering that male counterparts are still the majority, what is it that we, as women, can bring to the table to tip the success rate over the edge?
I recently read a Psychology Today article that described certain qualities both men and women need to exhibit in positions of leadership. The article starts by describing the stereotype that female leaders are more caring and nurturing, according to colleagues. Okay… I can take that. But then it describes women as…moody? Hang on. On the other hand, men are described as “action/task focused” and “assertive.”
Which brings up the ever-debated question: How do we, as women, direct and command our teams without being labelled as “moody?” (Among other colourful terms I’m sure.) Why are authoritative women viewed as moody and our male colleagues “task focused?”
Suppose we can never be sure how this stereotype formed, why the same behaviour can be construed in different ways purely based on gender. Still, shouldn’t we be able to get over that by now? (I don’t know about you ladies, but when I’m “moody” I’m not directing or commanding anyone; I’m in my PJs eating copious amounts of buttered toast.)
Anyway, something women do have — and which is showing itself more and more — is the gift of being, naturally, the most successful type of leader: the transformational leader. (For a refresher on this term, check out my last post.) The most effective and productive leadership style, one that rates highest for team satisfaction, belongs, mainly, to us.
The Commonwealth Cecretariat found that, typically, women have an edge in business because we are:
- Great social risk takers
- Better at recognizing subtle facial expressions
- Better at reacting with passion or other emotional intensity
- Less interested in a competitive environment
- Fearful of uncertainty, as opposed to angered by it
What I found interesting is that we react with passion, but do not feel the need to be in direct competition (perhaps a gift and a curse)? We’re focused on US and what WE ARE doing as opposed to what everyone else is doing, but that may affect our benchmarking abilities and bring us short of the competition in some cases.
A global leader needs a high level of cultural and emotional intelligence but above all an awareness of one’s own values, purpose and vulnerabilities. According to a study of 7,280 leaders, women were found to excel more in some leadership fields:
So, in some ways, nature makes women more effective at transformational leadership — not to say men can’t be or aren’t transformational leaders though. And not to argue that it’s the only way to lead; sometimes a more task-focused leadership style is required, there’s no denying that.
But considering women aren’t well represented in leadership roles, why do we have natural gifts in this area? Perhaps it’s from the way we raise our children, a genetic programming to raise and nurture rather than being too caught up in direction and success rate. (This theory is something I will delve into further in my next blog.)
And of course, I have to ask, given this natural sway to leadership – why aren’t we leading more? This is something to explore in my next few posts as well.