Even in the 21st century, there are still many more men in C Suite roles than women.
And yet those women in top roles show high levels of success; seeming to deploy a range of abilities that their male counterparts do not.
So, is it time to encourage men to embrace their inner female to effect more successful results in the workplace?
It’s a contentious issue for many, but there is a suggestion that women are more effective than men in business.
Yes, you read that, right!
It comes down to the way women react to stress.
Did you know that the fight or flight scenario that we all learn about at school only refers to male response? Scientific research was conducted using male volunteers – hence, the data was only representative of half the population!
Women, it turns out, don’t fight or take flight; they are more likely to seek reconciliation or befriend.
That’s just one of the alternative ways women have of achieving success. Female leaders have many other traits that contribute to success when leading others – and which could help men too.
Stereotypes would have us believe that female leaders excel at “nurturing”, displaying integrity and self-awareness.
It’s true that women do score highly in these areas. However, in a Harvard Business Review study, women scored higher in 12 of the 16 competencies considered critical for outstanding leadership.
Interestingly, two of the traits where women outscored men to the highest degree were taking the initiative and driving for results — long–held characteristics associated more with men; surprising isn’t it; unless you are a woman reading this of course?
So, should men consider embracing their inner female to achieve more in the workplace?
In this article, I‘ll take a look at five areas in which women excel, and seek to suggest that yes, it’s time for men to embrace their inner female!
1. Women Get Things Done
Firstly, women tend to get on with it; to get things done.
In a study by US leadership consultancy, Zenger Folkman of 16,000 leaders (two–thirds male, one–third female) the data revealed that women outperformed men in taking the initiative, getting things done, and driving for hard results.
Rather than postulating in meetings or being overly concerned with having the last word, women tend to allow input from others which inevitably increases overall creativity.
2. Women Are Not Afraid to Show Vulnerability
In the past, leaders were put on a pedestal to the extent that they were unable to display any sign of weakness. Today, we are more accepting of vulnerability and can see the positives it presents.
In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we Live, Parent and Lead, Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure” and calls it a pivotal leadership quality and strength that leaders need to possess to achieve success in today’s business world.
To be vulnerable does not mean to be weak or submissive. Instead, it is the courage to be yourself, to be willing to accept uncertainty in business and take a calculated risk (more on this in a moment) which may or may not pay off.
Whatever the outcome of an action, a vulnerable leader can deal with it positively through their confidence and inner strength.
3. Women Are Averse to Uncalculated Risk
However, while it’s true to say female leaders are willing to take some risk, they are more cautious than their male counterparts.
A 2015 survey by the University of Cambridge found that female CEOs generated more profit than their male equivalent. Additionally, they were more inclined to reinvest profits to accelerate controlled growth, rather than taking equity out. Consequently, they were less likely to make risky investments that could put their employee’s livelihood at risk.
Male CEOS, on the contrary, showed a higher tendency to take a more risky approach with equity and be less likely to consider the possible adverse outcomes of doing so.
4. Women Demonstrate Resilience
Whether its an organisational restructure, a geographical move or an adjustment to teams, leaders need to manage their employees through various challenges and situations at work.
During difficult or transitional times, employees look to their leader for support and reassurance – someone who will represent them and fight their corner.
Women exhibit excellent levels of resilience – having fought hard metaphorically for their place in the C- suite, female leaders are well equipped to support and lead their team with empathy and resilience in times of change.
5. Women Are More Self Aware
To be a great leader is to have great self-knowledge. Understanding your own behaviours, strengths and attributes can enable you to better deal with others appropriately.
Leaders are often called upon, when a company is going through change, to transition faster than anyone else: this change curve experience happens at speed.
If a leader lacks self-awareness, they are more likely to focus only on themselves and how they are personally impacted in a situation, leaving them unable to support their team. This inevitably leads to a downturn in morale and consequently, productivity.
Being more aware of their emotional responses to situations enables female leaders to avoid projecting onto their teams, and enables them to choose their own reaction with some forethought. They can communicate the situation, listen to their team‘s concerns and support them, keeping the team focused on achieving a positive outcome.
I hope this article has given you some food for thought, and you can see how embracing the inner female can help men develop into more rounded leaders too.
There can be little doubt that many women have impressive leadership skills – especially when aligned to factors such as employee wellbeing, customer satisfaction and profitability.
Harnessing their inner female can make male leaders more insightful, empathetic and supportive – traits that will, without doubt, only serve to enhance their overall success as leaders.
If you would like help in developing your leadership skills – we can help.
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Empowering people to learn, grow and succeed is at the heart of all we do.
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