Recognising the power and leadership of women

by Curswell Tshihwela

Around the world, women now have more decision-making power and influence, over more aspects of social, political and economic life, than ever before. Having more women in power is not necessarily associated with economic growth and development, but the increase in the number of women in political and public positions is important.

Women leadership and empowerment is an issue that society as a whole is currently faced in order to bring a change in women’s lives. Within the last two decades, women’s empowerment has been the central theme of international development policy and practice. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families, and communities. The private sector is a key partner in efforts to advance gender equality and empower women.

Gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader — a person’s leadership abilities should depend on their individual strengths and personality traits. However, in many cases, women aren’t encouraged to take on leadership roles as often as their male counterparts, contributing to an imbalance of who’s in power. According to the Huffington Post, last year, only 23 Fortune 500 Companies were led by women, which bring out the argument why is there such a huge disparity between women and men, because women are just qualified as men to lead. According to a 2015 study by talent management system Saba Software, 60 percent of male employees expect their companies to play an active role in their individual career options, versus 49 percent of female employees who expect this.

Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015. However, this minor uplift has coincided with an increase in the percentage of firms with no women in senior management, at 33% in 2016 compared to 32% last year. The G7 is “among the worst performing regions, with just 22% of senior roles occupied by women and 39% of companies with no women in senior roles. Two of the worst performing individual countries are Japan, with just 7% senior roles held by women, and Germany, with 15%. This is despite widespread public commitments to equal opportunity and an abundance of research illustrating the commercial benefits of diverse leadership” says Grant Thornton, which today publishes a report based on its annual survey of 5,520 businesses in 36 economies

Women are more hesitant to speak up about their career ambitions, but they are driven more by intrinsic motivations about work, rather than what their jobs or employers demand from them. “In contrast to men, who tend to be career-centric and want to maximize their financial return from work, women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan,” Therefore, they’re more likely to approach their careers in a self-reflective way and value factors such as meaning, purpose, connection with co-workers and work-life integration. Women make great leaders as there are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s easier to approach a women leader with a personal request or a sensitive question.

They care about their team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance. Women are more proactive in becoming mentors, and sometimes it’s already such an open and communicative relationship that the transition to mentor is easy. Most women are naturally empathetic and value relationships. This enables them to have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people, and how to acknowledge different people for their performance. Women are naturally nurturing, which explains the way they help their team member’s to develop their own skills and strength. Women consistently demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and an immense capacity to serve and be served by others.

Women make bold and wise decisions as leaders while relying on others to be part of their team. The environment is less authoritarian and more cooperative and family-like, but with solid leadership. The natural multitask gives women the ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership. Communication is one of the most women’s strongest skills — and female leaders know how to use it! Whether communicating with employers, co-workers, or partners, an open communication stream allows for clarity in executing roles and responsibilities. Female business leaders are able to communicate regularly, clearly and openly.

Women have innate ability to dream big, challenge assumptions and inspire teams — and they know how to translate big ideas into concrete action and results. They are trained caretakers from a tender age and the immediately know how to deal with a crisis situation at home with compassion and patience. These attributes become very relevant when a woman leader is dealing with crisis situations whether this is related to HR or [clients]. Wearing many hats is often a regular occurrence in a woman’s life as the constant balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women pivot, adjust and focus on solutions, rather than resting in the doom and gloom which can be time-consuming. Ego so often gets in the way of good decision-making in the C-suite.

Women exhibit ego differently and they are good at decision-making with the ego held in check. This is a key advantage in working with boards of directors, partners, and customers. According to Emotional intelligence which is the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and relate — is something that has recently gained momentum as essential leadership behavior. This is something that comes more naturally to women than men. To truly create a great place to work and to get the best of our employees, demonstrating emotional intelligence as a leader is critical. The flexibility and agility in women makes them to can pick up easily when the company is not working properly, and the immediately regroup as well as changing the course for better without much deliberation.

Women make phenomenal leaders because they are experts at making the impossible seem possible. And sometimes on a good day, they even make it look effortless. Women are pragmatic, resilient and usually able to maneuver tricky situations with grace. Their perspectives are borne out of a mix of trial by fire and sheer fortitude. They look at the world with bravery and are able to piece together the world around them like a complex puzzle. Most Women make great leaders because they defy the odds that are against them to lead. When you’re the underdog, it takes an extra push to get to the top. That’s why the women who emerge on top are extraordinarily strong and capable.

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