The Leadership Edge - Women in Leadership
One of the most debated to death topics that corporate world has seen globally. Enough and more has been written on why women do not find a seat at the table, why company boards need more women, why the leadership pipeline has leakages when women leave and the worst of all, why a woman needs to behave like a man to be taken seriously as a leader.
Do women have an edge when it comes to leading thoughtfully? Or they miss the mark when they try too hard to be taken seriously? Research after research have thrown varied conclusions on which gender makes a better leader. But what we often miss in this debate is, understanding the essence of what a leader really is about.
In my experience, positional authority doesn’t make someone a leader. It might make it easy to get some tasks done but it doesn’t guarantee you followers. In today’s world of complex-to-define jobs, a leader is one who has the capability to string the various threads together into a bigger picture. A leader is someone who is made up of small acts of leadership displayed in everyday conduct – whether it means taking initiative on something critical or standing up for somebody when it matters. It is about displaying strength and commitment which is worthy of emulation. It is as much about ambition and aspiration as about empathy and encouragement. And many of us are already doing this in our current roles in life – we are leaders to somebody, we are leaders to our own selves. It is just a matter of perspective at times that it is not our gender but gestures that make us a leader
In a research on qualities that distinguish women leaders (read full white paper here), it was found that women leaders were more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. “These qualities combine to create a leadership style that is inclusive, open, consensus building, collaborative and collegial,” according to Herb Greenberg, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Caliper.
While it is okay to understand the gender disposition towards specific leadership styles, remember you can assume leadership in your current role in the way you approach tasks and situations. You don’t need to get somewhere to be a leader. So what are some of the other things to keep in mind while at work to cultivate the innate leader in you?
1) Learn to be more confident about yourself and your decisions– statistics reveal that men are more confident when it comes to their decisions or abilities even where there is no significant difference in the quality of the same when compared to women
2) Do not try to fit in. Every individual is different – irrespective of the gender – so just focus on what value and novelty your ideas bring to the table. Rest will follow. Good work doesn’t have a gender
3) Don’t do what men have done to be successful – again success is not defined by gender. Success depends on opportunities, choices and preferences that are as unique to everyone as DNA. There are skills you can learn from men, no doubt, but you don’t have to imitate them to be successful. Carve your own identity, style and career path
4) Learn to be content with your choices and never compare – women have a tendency to under-estimate their efforts and be under-confident about their hard work – so best to progress on one’s own track, not worry what the others are doing and stay confident at all times
And, if you are still wondering what exactly your leadership style is, go ahead and take the Red Shoe Movement leadership style quiz. It is designed especially for women to discover their unique edge at the workplace.
Until next time!