Lead like a woman
Women in leadership roles may be a minority now, but our numbers are on the rise. Perhaps because there are few examples to follow, we’re often faced with a challenge – do we lead like the men who came before us or carve our own path?
In one of his Revisionist History podcasts, author Malcolm Gladwell explained a phenomenon we’ve all been surprised by. When a member of a less powerful group crosses over to a more powerful one, she underplays her identity and starts behaving like the latter.
Sometimes, women leaders who feel outnumbered by male counterparts end up acting the way men do, in an attempt to belong. However, evidence suggests that when we apply a feminine approach to leadership, both we and our companies thrive more than firms where less than 30% of the leadership roles are filled by women.
We’re glad to hear it because Basis was founded on the belief that women succeed when they stay true to themselves, and so offer innovative financial solutions that are tailor-made for the emerging woman investor.
The same goes for leadership. We women usually rely on a different set of qualities than our male counterparts, and this diversity is healthy for corporate culture. Here’s why:
1) Women build communities Evolution has made us more perceptive about group dynamics. That explains why we have a greater degree of empathy and an instinct for nurturing relationships. In the workplace, community-building skills ushers in inclusivity. That means more cohesive teams and more productive work.
2) We practise transformational leadership As captains of the team, women also double up as cheerleaders. We encourage team members and invest in their professional growth. That’s also why we’re more likely to share credit and mentor colleagues.
3) Women are better listeners Of course, we love to talk, but having snazzy communication skills means we’re also experts at lending our ears. This makes workplaces more democratic and leaves clients and colleagues feeling more respected and understood.
4) We’re natural multi-taskers The patterns of brain activity in men and women differ; they drive men to be more focussed while women can work on several things at a time. Sounds like a handy skill to have around the office, doesn’t it?
5) We pursue a better work-life balance Workaholism doesn’t benefit anyone, not even companies. Since women are always juggling personal and professional commitments, we try harder to do equal justice to both. This rubs off on other team members; in the long run, this isn’t just healthier, but also more productive.
It’s fair to say that when leadership roles are balanced between men and women, everybody wins. From an organisational standpoint, profits rise, the office culture becomes more inclusive, and the chance of women breaking through the glass ceiling improves.
But let’s take a minute to consider the ripple effect – when women do better professionally, we enjoy greater financial freedom and invest our savings in avenues that secure our future and our family’s. If money is power, we women could have a greater say in our lives, organisations, and communities. So, where do we start? Not by imitating great male leaders, but by becoming great female ones.