As of July 2013, there were only 19 female presidents and prime ministers in power around the world. Currently, women hold only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEO positions and the same percentage of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. As women continue their upward trajectory in the business world, they have yet to be fully appreciated for the unique qualities and abilities they bring to the workplace. (Source: Forbes)
Why do I think women make as good a leader if not better than men? In order to get the same recognition and rewards as men, women need to do twice as much, rarely make a mistake and constantly demonstrate our competency. Because of these double standards, women have to work harder at demonstrating outstanding leadership skills through practice, training, feedback and self-assessment. We get better at it, because we work harder at it and we practice. When I worked in the aerospace industry, we were raising three young children and my husband was traveling regularly for the same company. I requested and was granted the option to go from full-time to part-time. I did so gratefully, but my job duties didn’t get reduced in half. I was expected to work harder and longer on the three days I was there to get the work accomplished while taking a cut in pay and benefits. I did it because I wanted to keep the opportunities for advancement and career growth viable while balancing family and my work life. While I don’t think this is fair, it certainly enhanced my qualities and experiences and made me a better leader today.
The majority of people make the assumption that women will excel at nurturing competencies such as developing others, inspiring and motivating others, relationship building, collaboration and teamwork. But research indicates those competencies with the largest positive differences between men and women are taking initiative, displaying integrity and honesty, and driving for results. These are not nurturing competencies.
These competencies highlight that women are seen as more effective in getting things done, being role models and delivering results. These skills describe leaders who take on difficult challenges, ensure that people act with integrity, and who simply achieve challenging results.
Research also indicates that in the traditional male dominated fields of sales, legal, engineering, IT and the R&D function; women actually received higher effectiveness ratings than males. Many of our stereotypes are obviously incorrect. Again, the concern about women not being able to perform well in those functional areas is resoundingly refuted by the data. (Source: Business Insider)
At work or at home, women are often the glue that holds things together. When they sense growing tensions, they are often the first ones to act to correct inefficiencies and collaborate to resolve problems. The most successful women leaders are big believers in team building and the enforcement of mission, goals and values to assure that everyone is on the same page with like intentions. This secures a sense of continuity making it easier for everyone to have each other’s backs.
Many women leaders find motivation by being creative and resourceful when completing tasks and other duties and responsibilities. Maintaining focus and resiliency are qualities that make women excellent leaders. Juggling motherhood and work also reinforces the ability to maintain focus. When we became empty nesters, I told my friends that a whole section of my brain was freed up to reuse for other projects and interests of mine.
But the women’s advantages were not at all confined to traditionally women’s strengths. In fact at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts — and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows. So, ladies, let’s get out there and lead as an example for our daughters and for all the young women in our circle of influence.
Check this link for ways for young women graduates to receive support and learn to be bold.