“Are women the better leaders?” – about 120 gentlemen and 12 ladies were waiting for the answer to this question during my keynote at a European annual conference.
The leaders of the company-wide initiative “Women in Business” had invited me to speak about this from my more than twenty years of experience as a top coach.
Instead of women’s quotas and study marathons, I was to present my personal view as a top coach and woman, which I was only too happy to do. The topic is close to my heart because there is still a lot of room for all the talented women out there to take their place on the career ladder.
Three reasons why talented women need to be promoted
We are experiencing a war for talent with changed rules of the game. Female applicants are now picking and choosing jobs. That was true in the past, but now women are interviewing with more confidence and clear ideas about how they want to live their lives. In their two years working remotely, they learned to work more independently, to make their voices heard more clearly in virtual meetings, and to take charge of their own lives. They are no longer so easily “fobbed off” with inferior conditions.
The time of big egos in the job is over – the hour of the women has come. Younger generations in particular expect an empathetic management style and a tangible team spirit. This is proven by various studies – and I see it in all team and leadership coaching sessions I conduct. Goodbye old-economy thinking, hello recognition-appreciation-empathy. Great performance needs psychological safety. This in turn is based on appreciation, empathy, and trust. Research shows that it is often women who possess these qualities. If you don’t take advantage of this, you miss a great opportunity to lead your team to peak performance.
Mixed teams perform better, and women are a big part of that. You can also measure that. Of course, diversity includes not only gender, but culture, age, skills, and more. And yet it is interesting to see how the team culture improves when women are on the team or lead it. Interactions become more polite, the focus on results increases, and the team feels comfortable. These are all attributes that are demanded of applicants today and that companies must adapt to remain attractive.
Are women the better leaders?
I first posed this question to my audience and had their full attention. My answer: it depends.
Women are not the better leaders per se, but they bring many of the qualities that make a good leader. They can drive teams and companies to better performance when they live up to their full potential.
Many of my male clients say the same thing. After my keynote, some of the gentlemen in the audience also approached me and agreed. In some cases, they prefer to work with women or female leaders because then it’s more about results and less about power games.
Studies show that today, above all, empathy is the most important quality of a good leader. For New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, empathy is an integral part of her leadership style. That’s why she’s one of my heroines for empathic leaders.
Countries governed by women came through the pandemic better. There are also some studies that show that companies perform better when women are in leadership positions or on the board.
Women are attributed with qualities such as communication, cultivating personal relationships, as well as appreciation. If we look around, we see that it is precisely these qualities that are particularly valued and demanded in the new world of work. So it would be rather short-sighted if companies were to leave this potential lying around.
My conclusion: Be smart and promote the talented women in your environment! Otherwise, they will switch to your competitors and make them better.
And if I can support you with a motivational keynote or at an off-site, feel free to contact me. I am at your side with great pleasure!