-Farzana Suri, Victory Coach
Jacinda Adern, the youngest New Zealand PM was in the news, a month ago, in the wake of the Christchurch shooting by a terrorist. The world media and people across board praised her reaction as a leader. She spoke, truthfully from the heart and in a way a mother would, to protect her children. The opposition, termed her a ‘weak leader’. Did her act cause discomfort and was, possibly at odds with what they would practice?
Was it because her brand of leadership – fresh and real and, differed from the usual rhetoric of those in bastions of political power? Or because she is a woman and her action, deemed too feminine.
This, got me thinking about strong and successful women leaders around the world.
The stats state that 6.4% of Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by women as on date. One must acknowledge that this number has tripled since 2008. What makes the numbers thin out despite the rise in highly educated, capable and successful women, today?
Genders do not matter when it comes to leadership. The key qualities that make a great leader are present, in men and women, both. The difference exists in the personalities and each individual’s unique traits.
It’s interesting to note that women are not always encouraged to take on leadership positions, in many places. The gender diversity stands at mere single digits, even in the most advanced and progressive corporations.
Men and women are different and this is what brings strength to an organisation. The differences need to be celebrated instead of being poked at.
So, what do women bring to the table as leaders which is unique to their personality?
Sharing, caring and connecting with co-workers to create a work-life balance, are values that drive women. Their approach to leadership is holistic. Similar to the characteristic of keeping families together. As compared to men, who are more career-driven and focussed on financial goals. A belief entrenched from the early days, where man’s role was to provide for the family.
Here’s what makes women leaders different.
As water moulds itself into the pitcher, women have an innate ability to cope and change. Having been far removed from the traditional roles of power at home, women lead through ingenuity with the resources available to them. It provides them the ability to look at challenges as opportunities to do things, differently.
The compassionate and nurturing spirit in women is often confused with the inability to confront and hold people accountable. Being kind and empathetic is about being fair and just and use the ability to sell their vision. It helps in building trust and, understanding what drives and motivates people.
Women have a strong sense of self-awareness and are, constantly seeking ways to achieve success. They welcome feedback on their work, to hone and polish those weak spots and harness their strengths. They are more intuitive and self-aware, and at times, tend to overlook their capabilities, by being too involved in others’ needs, neglecting their own opportunities for victory. When they focus on themselves, they have the ability to turn any challenging situation into triumph.
Women accept that leadership requires working together and forging relationships that are collaborative. Their capacity to be vulnerable, to serve and be served by others, speaks of their skill in knitting people without the heavy hand of authority. This attribute of teamwork builds higher employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity that is critical for an organizational success.
It is no myth, anymore – women are naturals at multitasking, according to a UK study. In a stressed and complex situation, women are better organised due to their ability to switch lanes of thinking to take action. They can handle a career crisis and an emergency at home with careful thinking, patience and kindness. A much-needed trait for a leader which can save time and costs, for the organization.
High Emotional Intelligence
The ability to recognize and relate to emotions in yourself and others is an essential leadership quality. It helps create a safe environment for people to grow and shine. Women are born with this unique emotional sensitivity and intuition. They use it to build deeper relationships and, are known to accelerate the resolution of critical issues with.
Women leaders excel at competencies such as developing others and building relationships. They value, recognize and invest in them. They acknowledge that these networks are a part of their journey and strive to build on it. Their intentional support forms deep and lasting bonds and, often makes them connectors or go-to people who bring others together.
What comes in the way of many women leaders is perhaps, summarised in the study by a group of female academics in Harvard Business School which concludes, “Women and men believe they are equally able to attain high-level leadership positions but men want that power more than women do.”
Women are less motivated by pay, status and more by the ability to be meaningful and work towards a shared purpose. Therefore, they are sometimes seen as not strategic and goal-oriented unlike the male counterparts.
However, women leaders, intrinsically exemplify trust and touch hearts with their femininity. The world, organisations and homes need leaders who embody the yin and yang. This balance can move mountains and create rivers of harmony and prosperity.
Given the right mentoring and sponsor, women have the ability to lead, in a way only women can.
Because women are impacting, shaping and reshaping the world economy. They account for almost 52% of the world and are the world’s most powerful consumers with annual spends exceeding $18 trillion. Wouldn’t it make smarter sense not just to elevate and harness this but to transform the nature of power towards oneness and balance instead of dominance?
Women leaders can shift the C-suite paradigm by being bridge-builders who can resolve conflicts without the need for harsh measures.
Women have the ability to heal, inspire and shape, a slightly better world.
Farzana Suri Victory Coach is a Life Coach and Corporate Trainer residing in Mumbai, India. Visit www.farzanasuri.com for more details. Or reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org