Women are in certain respects better leaders than men. It’s not about women’s emancipation. It’s not about equal rights. It’s not about evolution, society, traditions or gender roles. Actually, it’s very simple – it’s about facts. And yes, I am generalising and stereotyping now. Men do the same when it comes to driving. Why not brag about what we all know is true, right? On the following lines I would like to give you an overview of my brief research into the capabilities of women and even identify some space for improvement.
Maybe I’m going to repeat what all the women of the world already acknowledge but being at least as good as men and still occupying such a low share of CEO positions as 4% is ridiculous1. Isn’t it sad that the number of female employees considerably decreases when you go up the ranks? However, let’s abandon the talk about the power of men and let’s finally start to stroke the female ego.
Last week, I came across the Caliper research whitepaper Women Leaders. The most inspiring findings for me are that “after rejection, women learn from adversity and carry on with an ‘I’ll show you’ attitude” and that they are willing to ignore rules and take risks. Another piece of research I read was published in Harvard Business Review. It rated the overall leadership effectiveness of women as up to 3% higher than that of men. The paper analysed the quality of individual characteristics every leader should have. Women excelled in twelve out of sixteen competencies, whereas men excelled only in two. In four categories, both genders reached quite similar results.
Women seem mostly lack technical or professional expertise and development of strategic perspective. Four disputable qualities include problem analysing and solving, self-confident and prolific communication, an eye for innovation and connection of a group to the outside world.
Now, I have two pieces of good news. Arising from our willingness to learn and progress, I can assure you that there is plenty of room for improvement. The other piece of good news is that these six shortcomings I mentioned above can be overcome.
Here are my tips:
1. SHOW YOUR PASSION
You are eager to know more; you crave learning, so do not be afraid to ask questions and get your hands dirty.
2. BE UNREPLACEABLE
A goal without a plan is a mere wish. Go along a very clear path and if something goes wrong, have a back-up plan ready. You are the boss here; people cannot see the machinery in your head. You are the one who can think through things and most importantly, you are the one who can make them happen.
3. ENCIRCLE YOURSELF WITH AMAZING PEOPLE
Create your personal board of advisors. No one expects you to know everything. Also make sure you have a fair stock of good friends when all goes wrong. Sometimes this happens and you cannot avoid it. An unbiased opinion and a relaxed chat over a cup of coffee can bring a priceless solutions.
4. KNOW YOUR STRENGHTS
You have your opinion. Express it. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Don’t get taken by surprise when people do not like your views or if they do not share your enthusiasm. Don’t you even dare to think that everyone will like you. You are successful because of who you are and if you become someone others want you to be, not only will you not satisfy everyone but you will also lose the very reason why you are so extraordinary.
5. AIM HIGH
Leadership is about character, talent and luck. Despite your great personality and even greater potential, without being at the right place at the right time, it might easily happen you end up working as an under-appreciated assistant for a guy who had more luck than brains. But, remember, you don’t have to wait for luck to happen. Create your own. Harry Golden said that the only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work. Sounds like a challenge to me.
6. BREAK THROUGH STUFFY EXPECTATIONS
Your workplace is your second home. You have to feel at home – despite all the shared values and rules, you have to feel comfortable in everything you do. It will take a while, so if someone tells you to be tough, to man up or even to give up trying to make your work an amazing place to be, ignore the idle talk and move on.
Well, my dear women aiming for huge things, that’s it. I wish you luck and perseverance. You have my admiration for your desire to develop others and yourselves and for your eternal drive to inspire and motivate people around you. I hate complaints like “I have to do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.” Math doesn’t lie – you would have to perform four times better than men to earn the same recognition. Come on, ladies, you do not have to be superheroes, sacrifice your family life and starve yourselves in order to become successful. I’m sure you know that.
In case you want to meet me in person and share your insights with some successful people from leading positions who do not have prejudiced views, feel free to check out the website of the Women Empowerment Forum. It will host amazing women who have experience with breaking their way through the world of men. You should be there too. See you on 16 – 17 September in Brussels.
P.S. If you would like to know more about the event, feel free to contact my friend, a great fighter for human rights and also marketing manager of the event, Peter Novak.
Zuzana Rajcakova, aka Sue
Llopis, G. (March 2014). The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits of Women
This article was written by Zuzana Rajcakova and provided by Fleming Europe in line with our collaboration supporting the Women Empowerment Forum!