Having women in leadership positions is very important now more than ever. Gone are the days when women were confined in the kitchen or at home, but now, they can confidently go for any position, including the presidency, without fear. Although women have to break stereotype barriers to get into leadership positions, they portray that they too have the same if not better leadership qualities as men. A good leader must know how to communicate with their team and focus on business goals. Although leadership is a soft skill, it is the glue that holds an organization together.
Here are some of the skills good leaders possess:
- Ability to listen
- Ability to think through a challenging situation fast and come up with a solution
- Ability to communicate complex thoughts/ ideas in simple terms
- Good time management
- Ability to transform thoughts into action
- Good management skills
- Ability to create and sustain teamwork
Women have better communication skills than men, which is evident even in homes. They are more patient and accommodative than their male counterparts. As many employees under women leaders would profess, a woman will explain to you an intricate detail like a two-year-old. For instance, in a factory where workers have a problem with aluminum oxidation, a woman leader would probably result in simple DIY procedures, everyone would understand and perform. She will explain to her team why they have these challenges for cleaning aluminum and how to avoid them in the future. Women have a more participatory and cooperative leadership style than men, who are more delegative and use a control and command style.
Why Should We Encourage Women to Take Up Leadership Positions?
In the USA, women make up 40% of the primary breadwinners in families and 47% of the workforce. Women take up 24% of leadership positions globally, but the situation is better in China, holding 51% of senior positions. A lot needs to be done to encourage women to take up senior positions. Astonishingly, in the USA, women go for bachelor’s, doctorates, and master’s degrees more than men; therefore, they do have the needed skills. This means that they either shy away from the positions or the world is not yet ready to accommodate women leaders. Understandably, women have to conquer a lot more than men to get anywhere in the job market.
The challenges include:
1. Work-Life Balance
Most women are the glue that holds their families together. They have to create family time, take care of young children, and sometimes miss work to take care of family emergencies. This means they may have to work harder to keep up with their male colleagues or shy away from taking leadership positions. Women sometimes have to put their careers aside to start a family then resume when the children are older.
2. A Gender Stereotype
Although the world is slowly accepting women in certain positions reserved for men, women leaders have to fight harder to get acceptance. When a woman wants to take the senior leadership position in an oil company or a sports group, she may have to fight way harder than a less qualified man interested in the same. 54% of men in the USA admit that women ought to take caring positions such as lead hospitality groups while men go for more challenging jobs. There are still some countries where a woman is labeled as a rebel when she breaks stereotype barriers.
3. Women Take Fewer Risks than Men
Most women would rather stay in a position that guarantees job stability than throw all caution to the wind and go for their passion. Men, on the other hand, are risk-takers. Men act then deal with the consequences later. Before most women try anything, they have to evaluate the risks involved and how it will affect their image and family and its long-term repercussions. When it’s too risky, most will do away with it.
4. Women in Leadership Positions Are Held to Higher Standards Than Men
Women have to continuously prove to themselves and the organization that they are capable of handling the position. According to a survey carried out by Pew Research Center, women admitted that they had to work harder to prove themselves in organizations. 79% of women leaders admitted they worked twice as hard as their male counterparts to prove their ability. The pressure to perform and achieve more may be too much for some women who play different roles.
Although the number of women leading fortune 500 companies is steadily rising to 37 in 2020, a lot still needs to be done to encourage women to take up leadership positions.
While gender shouldn’t play a role in determining whether one gets a position, women make great leaders. However, all this depends on one’s leadership skills and personality. Not all women make good leaders, but those who do excel.
7 Reasons Why Women Make Great Leaders
1. They are Leaders with a Work-Life Balance
It’s easier to approach a lady leader with a personal issue at work than a man. Women leaders create a work-life balance in the workplace and have a more sensitive, approachable, and welcoming leadership style. They understand the need to create a work-life balance for productivity to excel. Women are ready to mentor their team and walk with them on the journey of life. They readily go out of the office setup to offer support and guidance when their team members have pressing family issues.
2. They Are More Empathetic
When there is a problem with an employee, a woman will first try to understand the cause, analyze the employee’s performance then take the necessary action. Rarely will a good leader fire an employee without trying to solve a situation, especially when the problem is solvable.
For instance, if an employee has lately been sloppy in their work, is late to work often, and is withdrawn, it’s essential to understand the sudden change of behavior, then try to help. Sometimes, solvable problems at home spill into the office, affecting productivity. A woman leader will most often try to find a solution even when it’s not directly related to the office. Women are more relationship-driven and find it easier to build strong relationships with all their subordinates. They view the workplace as another family setup where everyone should feel happy, influential, and accepted.
3. Women Make Better Listeners
A good leader must have the ability to listen to everyone’s opinion even when they disagree with it. Women make good listeners. They encourage the teammates to air their views, whether right or wrong, without reacting or cutting them off. Everyone in the team should be encouraged to talk or participate in generating ideas. A good leader takes note of all the viewpoints and implements those she thinks will benefit the organization without discouraging anyone.
4. They Nurture More
A team needs encouragement, direction, and a mentor for it to grow. Women’s inborn ability to nurture comes into play when creating groups. They don’t let their subordinates figure things on their own, but they are there every step of the way to offer guidance and direction. Like a mother, she encourages her team to take risks, work harder, and when they achieve their goals, she celebrates and rewards them, which motivates the team to work harder in future projects. In most cases, women don’t take a traditional authoritative approach but encourage teamwork where each member freely develops unique skills without feeling threatened or intimidated.
5. They Are Better at Multitasking
Women naturally are better multitaskers. They can decisively take care of different tasks and situations, offering fast solutions to any crises. Most women leaders don’t cringe when facing a challenge but boldly face it, which gives them the fuel to stay focused on their goals. They are also good at handling crises, especially if they already have children at home. They rise to the challenge calmly and patiently and do whatever needs to be done. They also outwardly stay composed even when a storm is blowing inside.
6. Women Have High Emotional Intelligence
Every great leader needs to keep their emotions controlled and recognize other people’s emotions in every situation. A leader shouldn’t react to any provocation but calmly handle every situation. It’s also essential to have the ego in check. This helps women get along well with their subordinates, clients, and other leaders. Women understand that to have any achievements, they shouldn’t wear the boss hat but be approachable and willing to work as a team.
7. Women Are Flexible
Women are ready to change direction when they think they’ve made a wrong turn. They readily start from scratch and don’t dwell on regrets too long, which is an essential leadership skill. It helps a company stay relevant, competitive, and afloat when hard times strike.
Women are defying many odds to become what they want. With encouragement from the family and society, the number of women in leadership positions can increase. This not only boosts a country’s economy but encourages young women to work hard to achieve what they want. It’s also true that a gender-conscious and diverse business is more likely to have a better financial outcome.