“The future is female” – A famous feminist phrase once used by feminists worldwide is now redundant. The future we imagined is here. While women continue to claim their fundamental rights, there have been countless examples of female leaders showing how to empower women.
From Jacinda Arden, who led New Zealand in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic and received global accolades, to Christine Lagarde, the first female president of the European Central Bank, there are several recent trends to prove that women have infinite leadership potential.
Unfortunately, our social order, laced with patriarchal linings, seems to undermine this potential. While several studies prove that women’s leadership roles are ideal for the contemporary world, the popular understanding remains biased towards a male-driven aggressive leadership style.
In one study conducted by a well-known leadership consultancy, it was revealed that women’s leadership traits during a crisis were more effective than those of men. Women tend to perform better when it comes to desirable characteristics such as effective communication, collaboration, and motivation.
As a society, we need to learn the values that make women influential leaders instead of forcing them to be like men.
It is only ideal for humans to learn and evolve. This is how we have survived all this while. For reasons scientifically unclear, we tend to undermine the collective achievement of women in our society. As a social species, we tend to romanticize particular instances of women empowerment instead of normalizing the fact that women have potential.
Suppose we can develop a bigger collective conscience about the female leadership style’s benefits to the table. In that case, we can pave the way for a better generation of people. It would create an egalitarian social order. Such interventions could mean a world with equality of opportunity, irrespective of gender.
The big question then is some of these leadership lessons we can learn from women or female leaders. The answer is not so straightforward. You can browse the internet and easily find lists of leadership traits where women perform better than men. Here we have tried to compile more than just a list. Below is an attempt to analyze some qualities that make women phenomenal leaders.
It is not a hidden fact that communication is one of the most critical aspects of leadership. Interestingly, there is a stark difference between the communication strategy adopted in the male and the female style of leadership. While the male leadership style places information delivery at the core of communication, the female leadership style focuses more on transparency and clarity. Too much focus on correct information delivery lead to delays and ambiguity. Women leaders tend to be more transparent with their teammates, keeping everyone in the loop and providing regular updates. This way, people feel more involved and hence responsible. This sharing of agency then results in a building-up of trust and promotion of dialogue.
Society tends to stereotype women as too sensitive and unnecessarily compassionate – traits that are not linked traditionally with influential leaders. Leaders are supposed to be aggressive and upfront. But do they need that? Contrary to this popular perception, a study conducted on 15,000 leaders across several industries found that empathy was the most valued factor for assessing a leader.
Contemporary leaders need to be empathetic to be efficient and successful. It is an essential requirement of modern leadership. Humans are emotionally agile creatures, craving appreciation, and emotional support. An empathic approach to leadership satisfies both these aspects of human sensibility. It is one reason for the tremendous success that the feminist movement has seen in a historically small duration of time. Women supporting women was one reason that the moment gained pace in its initial years. Leaders with an empathic approach towards leadership, similar success can be reflected in any sphere of life.
Another aspect of leadership that women leaders excel in. Women leaders are not only proactive about planning a future, but their vision involves an inclusive approach. This is another reason for the success of the contemporary feminist moment. An inclusive approach aids evolution, one of the most critical factors for the success of any movement. The same inclusive approach is prominent amongst all women leaders. An inclusive approach will ensure fewer chances of polarization and conflicts, which will guarantee success.
Authentic leadership is all about ensuring the empowerment of people. The development of any organization depends on the evolution of its people. If a leader cannot make people feel involved and empowered, it is impossible to achieve long-term success. Again, taking the example of the feminist movement, it has never ceased to be relevant because its leaders always focused on empowering the oppressed sections. It is empowering those less powerful than oneself builds vertical solidarity that is pivotal for success. With an empathetic and inclusive approach, women leaders focus on empowering others, gaining strength from the resultant solidarity.
All these traits mean women leaders rise to the occasion during critical situations. Their empathetic approach and highly efficient communication skills mean they put people first, effectively guiding them to a resolution. Think of any crisis in human history, and you will find that lack of empathy and efficient communication lead to havoc. We need these traits in our leaders today more than ever. With a shrinking world and still growing every day, we need to realize the importance of a gender-balanced leadership style that can save humanity from repeating the havoc of the past. We need to make it happen now. The ‘future’ that was supposed to be female is here. Women leaders and their leadership style is taking center stage. It is time for us to either accept it or step aside.