Idea: According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 78% of top managers and 67% of senior executives were men. Yet women are leading in 12 of the 16 categories that contribute to outstanding leadership. The study doesn’t mean that one gender is better than another, it says something bigger: we need more vulnerability, listening, coaching and collaboration in leadership.
Business has long been dominated by the Y chromosome. Even after dismissing a less than flattering track record of discrimination and sexism in the labor market, a false perception of “strength” has left many business leaders operating outside of their true potential. The result of this false perception has left many leaders fearing to appear weak- striving to become the alpha-dog and unable to operate with vulnerability within their teams.
What can businesses learn from women’s leadership strengths?
For one, the male viewpoint has been dominant for too long – we must actively highlight the voices of strong women leaders in the workplace. They are invaluable and vital to birthing high performing, diverse thinking teams!
More importantly, the prototypical “female characteristics” (i.e. more prone to humility, listening, teaming and coaching) make for outstanding leadership! Tom Peters once wrote, “Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” Considering that women are categorically better at motivating a team, building relationships and developing others. Women’s tendencies to lean towards inclusion often facilitate more effective problem solving and a healthier workplace.
Beyond stereotypical female characteristics, the emerging research shows that women are also better at driving results, self-development and establishing goals. Their leadership style works!
All the data suggests that effective leadership is not a gender issue. It’s an issue of valuing honesty and vulnerability in leadership – these characteristics drive growth. Embracing diverse people, ideas and expressions is the secret recipe of any healthy organization.
Here is the challenge. How can you actively distance yourself from false concepts of “strength” and instead focus on the real determinants of leadership: motivation and collaboration?