It is a familiar saying that “when you educate a man, you educate an individual. But, when you educate a woman, you educate an entire generation”. The prosperity of a country is measured by the success of its women. The evolution of female leaders over the last few decades has resulted in a small but significant spike in the number of women holding the position of CEO in the Fortune 500.
According to a study by Grant Thornton, the number of women in senior leadership positions globally has risen to 31% from 25% in 2017. This indicates progress at a global level but there is still much left to do.
Various programs have been rolled out globally to ensure that there are no biases in workplaces. But they cannot be eliminated completely. Women on their part, can make the ecosystem more conducive by overcoming the roadblocks.
Moving up the ladder requires resilience, grit and undeterred will to cross mountains and aim for higher peaks so you can wave your flag of victory. Let us dive into 7 such traits that have enabled many women to stand out from the crowd and straighten their crowns despite all odds.
In a diverse world, the only common thing is the human bond. No matter what role we play or which organization we belong to, the key to success is our ability to communicate within our ecosystem. It is not only about conveying messages but comprehending them too. Most of us love listening to our voices, which is why, we talk more and listen less. But, to understand your peers/team members, it is important to practice active listening.
Not only do women communicate and listen more to their teams, but their conversations are deeper. They share doubts and ask for feedback and opinions. They also read non-verbal signs quite well and are able to understand the meaning behind the blinks, smiles and frowns. This helps them to drive people and also bring them together.
When you align your team to a vision, you want them to work as hard as you to achieve the goals. This is possible only when trust exists between you and your team. As a leader, you must lead by example and walk the talk instead of making unfulfilled promises and commitments. What is more important is for the team members to trust each other. Without trust, there would be no cohesion and without cohesion, there would be no orientation. As a leader, you must create a climate that promotes trust. Higher trust fosters team bonding and greater free flow of ideas.
Women have a more intuitive approach to trust. They are ready to do what it takes to build trust and work hard to ensure that the trust is not broken. This makes them more approachable and open-minded thus building more creative teams, as the members are not afraid to try something new. They believe in their leader’s vision and are more comfortable embracing change, values and goals.
Problem Solving & Creative Thinking
Women tend to solve problems in a more non-liner fashion. They look for options and are more open to ideas right from the beginning. They communicate better and use empathy and non-verbal cues to focus on arriving at a solution that benefits all the stakeholders. This also allows them to pacify a heated discussion or lighten a tense situation.
Encouraging team members to think out of the box and come up with unique solutions is something women leaders practice naturally. As a leader, you must allow your team to explore various options while staying comfortable in their skin.
The only way you can move mountains is with confidence and the only thing that can hold you back is fear. The moment you let go of your fear, nobody can stop you from achieving your goal.
Surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and people who enable you to smell the roses is as important as practicing any other leadership trait. Most women are restricted by their own limiting beliefs and doubts. Their inability to reach their destination is more because of Impostor Syndrome than any other external factor.
Even if you are the only female in the board room or a newbie in a big organization, you must not be afraid to ask questions, raise your hand or demand something you truly deserve. Whether it is an increment or a promotion, you must attain it by asking for it and not waiting for other people to give it to you.
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
In the marathon of leadership, many leaders are reaching the finishing line by choosing a different track. That is the track of Emotional Intelligence. Where conventional leadership was all about IQ, skills and technique, present day leadership is about understanding people, their emotions and managing them.
More organizations are opting for women leaders as they are more empathetic, people-oriented, compassionate and have a 360-degree view while devising solutions for a problem or closing a deal. They make sure that the product/service/solution gives long-term returns and does not adversely impact their customers and upholds the values of their organizations.
They work selflessly towards the attainment of common goals, taking their team members with them in their journey, motivating them to achieve their individual goals simultaneously. They do not restrict the success of their subordinates and are always there to guide them to become better leaders in the future.
Adaptability & Resilience
To thrive in this VUCA world, it is important to come up with unique ideas and solutions towards problems. Leaders need to be flexible and showcase resilience when things don’t go according to plan. Addressing challenges through diverse viewpoints is something women have always excelled at. Most women have had to overcome many obstacles to become leaders, and this has taught them to adapt and be flexible.
To build resilience, you must work towards building your confidence and awareness. Also, technology has made the world a different place and changes are so rapid that those who fail to adapt are left behind. You must learn and use the latest tools and technology applicable to your area of work.
Working without a vision is like breathing in air without the oxygen. There comes a point when you are not sure of the path you are walking on. Your actions no longer make sense. To fill that void, it is necessary to have a vision, by which you and your team can stand.
A leader with a strategic vision influences others and drives change in organizations. This happens when you can deal with your internal challenges along with the external forces. Women engage with their teams more and this provides them with the opportunity to ensure that present-day actions are aligned and fine-tuned to address the problems of the future.
These are some of the traits which make women stand apart, making organizations want to hire them in top positions. While men have these traits too, women tend to leverage them better as they have had to navigate through the storm of judgements, biases and prejudices. In the end though, there is much that both can learn from each other.