Leading with Impact as a Female Boss – 7 Skills Women Leaders Must Have
Traditionally, world-wide businesses have been led by men since the dawn of time and in many countries around the globe, this hasn’t changed. Men are still in leadership positions at all levels, with fewer women in roles that can influence decisions and business outcomes.
But the focus is changing as we attempt to achieve gender equality in business and encourage females, particularly as leaders, to contribute in more meaningful ways.
At the outset, this article is not written to inflate female leaders at the expense of gifted men who are leaders. That would be counter-productive. Rather, my intention is to highlight what makes women good at leadership and to help outline what they continue to need, moving forward, to be effective at senior levels in any Company.
Gender Inequality in Business
Global gender inequality and mistreatment of women at all levels of society is being scrutinised (examples include the #MeToo movement and equal financial payment for women in Hollywood’s movie industry) and in many Organisations, there is an intense focus on paving the way for women to occupy leadership positions. To equal the imbalance and to give women a greater voice and role.
To be competent and capable female bosses.
Evidenced by research, overall women make gifted leaders. For over a decade, leadership research Organisations such as Zenger Folkman have studied more than 45,000 leaders world-wide, across all industries, to understand what makes successful leaders and the differences in the effectiveness of male and female leaders. The findings are substantial.
Some Statistics about Women in Business
- At the lowest levels, more than half of all employees in Organisations are female
- In some industries, this is almost 90% female (an example is child-care)
- The number of women in business shrinks as you move steadily up an Organisation’s ranks
- At the CEO level, worldwide, only 3% to 4% are women
- Overall leadership effectiveness – women 54.5, men 51.8
- Between 28 years and 39 years of age, men tend to be more effective in business Between 40 years and 60 years, women take the edge
- Research conducted in this regard explains that more women ask for feedback and act on improving their areas for development than male leaders do
Female Bosses and Nurturing Competencies
Women leaders are better at nurturing competencies such as developing others, inspiring and motivating others, relationship building, collaboration and teamwork. However, the research also indicates that competencies where women score more highly are taking initiative, displaying integrity and honesty, and driving for results – which are not nurturing competencies.
These research outcomes also highlight that women are more effective at getting things done, being positive role models and delivering results.
It Doesn’t Always Work this Way
Whilst I am talking about what makes female bosses great, I have also witnessed women in leadership positions who don’t lead well, fail to motivate their staff and are mean to women down the line. (That’s the topic of another article!)
Regardless of gender, to excel at leadership there must be a willingness to learn the skills, practise the competencies and strive for effectiveness on an ongoing basis.
5 key things Female Bosses do to Lead with Impact
- Women listen – nurturers, women tend to be better listeners than their male counterparts in leadership, motivating staff to produce higher outcomes
- Women collaborate – female bosses tend to regularly collaborate and share ideas with others, enhancing team spirit and a ‘we’re all in this together’ spirit
- They are accessible – psychologists believe women are more open, probably due to their motherly instinct and desire to look after others. This innate compassion means they are more likely to be supportive of individuals at all levels of their Organisation, regardless of rank or title
- They focus on personal growth – women tend to like to read and learn and be better at what they do
- Women leaders motivate others – natural cheerleaders, a recent report by Gallup (2015) found that people who work for women are more engaged than those who work for men
7 Key Skills Female Bosses Must Have
- Master your art – get good at your skills and competencies and excel in your role
- Have a voice – make impact by contributing at every level of your Organisation, providing suggestions and advice to projects and others
- Build strong and supportive relationships around you – your team are the people who carry you. Make them your greatest ally
- Be skilful in Emotional Intelligence – Contain your frustration and anger. Stay calm and manage your frustrations well by thinking about what you say and do before swinging into action
- Communicate Assertively and with Confidence – learn to stand your ground, have your say respectfully and back yourself all the way
- Have Courageous Conversations with Staff – when people under-perform these conversations are critical and need to be done well
- Be Optimistic and Approachable – people will follow a positive and personable leader wherever they go if necessary
Gender Equality at Work
We all need to address gender inequality in our Organisations, communities and society overall.
In line with the United Nation’s 17 global goals for sustainable development, by working towards achieving these goals (including gender equality) we set the tone and direction for development world-wide, for the next 15 years.
By seeing both genders as equal and achieving the global goals, we will give the world a chance to end poverty and ensure that people’s human dignity and rights are respected, regardless of whether they are male or female.
You and your Organisation have a key role to play.
Like more information?
If you would like to know about our Empowering Women to Thrive at Work Program or want more information about developing female leaders and staff at all levels in your Organisation, contact us now.
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