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It’s generally agreed that women face more barriers to leadership positions than men.
By: Kaylia Dunstan
Only 24 women made Forbes’ Fortune 500 list in 2018, representing just under 5% of standout business leaders last year. What’s not so clear is what makes particular women great leaders and whether there are any common female leadership styles that can provide a blueprint for aspiring females. Although they have contrasting leadership styles country leaders Jacinda Arden and Angela Merkel have both demonstrated particular skill in the face of national crisis and have inspired global inquiry about whether women do leadership differently. As more women take on leadership positions it’s time to explore what makes a great female leader and would the world be better if we had more of them?
Joanna Barsh, Geoffrey Lewis, and Susie Cranston conducted five years of research to attempt to discover what drives and sustains successful female leaders and their work culminated in the book, How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life. Their book identifies some of the common characteristics, values, and patterns that underpin successful female leaders.
So what makes some women great leaders? Great female leaders have the capacity to understand, regulate and connect with emotions, which also connects them to the feelings and aspirations of their employees during times of crisis and fortitude.
They plug into their communities to gain insights into potential opportunities and threats within the organisation and broader networks so that they can take deft and informed actions when necessary.
Their focus on energy management makes them more consistent and less prone to the burnout commonly associated with testosterone-fuelled male leadership styles. They may even promote personal energy regulation as a company value to bring their employees into greater balance.
Research has shown that women are more likely to utilise particular leadership styles but they are also apt at blending styles in response to an issue, crisis or opportunity. In general their emotional connection makes them more flexible and responsive to both the environment and to people. They may also be able to adopt different styles for different aspects of the business or endeavours.
There’s little doubt that women still have a way to go to occupy an equal measure of leadership positions in business, government and as thought leaders. What’s becoming apparent is that any woman that decides she’s going to rise as a leader will alter the status quo and her presence will change the face of whatever field she’s in as male leadership has been such an influence for so long. Given the world is suffering under the effects of climate change, autocratic leadership, famine, war, racism, division, misdirection and misinformation a change to the status quo is certainly needed. Female leaders will bring new ideas to the table can certainly contribute to a better world.
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