I’ve been following #SallieKrawcheck on LinkedIn for a few months now and, because of her investment firm #Ellevest, reading articles about women who are #financialfeminists and on how smart investors are taking notice of the performance of women-led companies. This got me thinking about leadership and gender.
Traditional views on leadership tend to be congruent with male gender roles. That is, a good leader was considered one with more masculine qualities. One had to be perceived as strong, but as I see it, in a reductionist, one-dimensional context. In this paradigm, leaders needed to demonstrate dominant and confident behaviors to prove that they are, in fact, a leader,rather than a follower. They had to demonstrate how much more special they are than their peers.
Real leaders are real people
This gave way to the idea that if women wanted to be successful in a leadership position, they had to take on masculine qualities rather than use qualities that we consider more feminine which, according to a study on gender and perceptions of leadership effectiveness include sensitivity, warmth and understanding.
But research shows that having these qualities is a good thing in leaders.
A recent Harvard Business Review article proposes that the most effective leaders are good followers and believe in the collective “we,” not the individual “I.”
And as business evolves, we see evidence that leaders who embody more of the feminine qualities are more adept at navigating the complex and increasingly nuanced environment of newer industries and millennials in the workplace. Companies around the world are demonstrating that this type of leadership results in a more holistic measurement of success as well as revenue growth.
Build better companies by adding more diverse voices
Although women may not have the same power in the economy as men, they should be included in the leadership makeup because of the value that they add. Women in leadership can help organizations in the public and private sector to diversify their information, improve decisions and enhance performance. They do this, in part, by increasing the number of women in leadership positions overall and bringing attention to issues that affect different groups in the organization.
The result of this inclusion, as studies show, is that companies with more diverse management teams make more money. Beyond gender, diversity also includes cultural backgrounds and relevant educational and professional backgrounds.
To be clear, feminine qualities are not relegated to women leaders. They are qualities which ideally are shared by both female and male leaders. The point is that effective leaders espouse a combination of both feminine and masculine qualities. The important takeaway is that leaders feel empowered to exhibit this balance in qualities and develop the next generation of leaders to do the same.
I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets. Find out more about me at www.royanndean.com, follow me on Twitter @royanndean and Linkedin.