Are women better leaders? Do they have innate skill set to lead and influence individuals? Can they really build a more cohesive team than men? This is a common discussion topic doing the rounds in various corporate circles, and more so with an increasing number of women joining the workforce or starting out on their own. There are numerous theories around how leadership styles of women are better than men.
When we evaluate how many women are actively part of the workforce or rise up the corporate ladder, we realise that the ground reality tells a different story. Sadly, if you look up a few recent reports, you will find that the number of women holding leadership positions in organisations is dismal. Also as you move to each successively higher level in the organisation, the number of women steadily shrinks. If we look at the 2018 list of top 100 CEOs in India, we will find only 4 women. It is only 3-4% women who make it to the CEO ranks, globally.
If we read up about success stories of women leaders or refer to industry research data, they clearly highlight that women leaders are more successful than their male counterparts, in higher leadership roles. Also, interestingly their success has been in functional areas that are traditionally dominated by men.
It is the women leaders’ intent to a more holistic and self-reflective approach that is the backbone of their unique leadership style. Women can definitely connect better with people, in their teams as well as in the organisation at large. They are easily approachable in case one needs to share a personal request or discuss a sensitive issue. It is their natural ability to empathise and understand people that goes a long way in driving commitment and higher levels of engagement within teams.
Women are good with multi-tasking. They can juggle with multiple situations with ease and manage multiple chores. Unlike men who are proven to be better focusing on one task at a time, women can switch between numerous roles will ease. Women are known to be better managers and can manage their teams as well as their deliverables well. They also tend to be more organised and hence, can drive productivity in their teams, by rolling out best practices. They generally have a detailed thought through plan and do not ‘cross-the bridge-when-it-comes’. They try to think about probable scenarios and plan ahead of time, to avoid any eventuality. These skills come in handy when one is leading big teams or key projects.
Also, women leaders tend to be honest about their strengths and weaknesses and are also willing to learn. They take pride in their failures as well as successes alike, and believe in sharing them with their teams, if they can motivate the team members.
Another interesting quality is that women invest time in building relationships and also in listening to what the other person has to say. They are generally less impulsive and good listeners. With a woman leader, one can be assured of a heart-to-heart chat which can make all the difference to an individual who is low on confidence or is struggling to meet multiple deadlines.
Lastly, women leaders don’t get hassled by crisis situations and generally keep a cool head. Attributes like compassion and patience come in handy and women leaders are able to find a logical solution as well as keep their team motivated well during such critical situations.
To sum it up, women are motivated by challenges and encourage innovation. Communication skills are one of the biggest assets of women leaders. Whether it is about communicating with employers, co-workers, partners, or cross-cultural teams, women leaders have an edge as they can communicate more clearly and openly. Women leaders are blessed with a high emotional intelligence that powers them to deliver better results, even in case of big or cross-cultural teams.
Women have made considerable progress but they still have a long way to go. My message to all those young women who aspire to become successful leaders- Wait no more. Gear up, pull up your socks and make it happen. Believe in your dreams and do not get bogged down by people!