A damning study recently highlighted in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that most men in high positions of leadership enjoy their powerful positions whether they are competent to hold them or not.
For example, many men are lauded for their display of confidence when they have little to be confident about general smarts, leadership ability, or an ability to empathize with others.
Thus, it seems odd that women are often advised to “be more like men” to advance to higher executive positions. That makes little sense in light of this thorough study – which also included a meta-analysis – that showed most men held top positions simply because they were men.
The HBR article also identified some key skills and traits possessed by women that make them bona fide leadership material. Some of them include:
Men are taught to always “believe in themselves” no matter what. But what if they possess little substance to believe in? They would be better off having an honest level of self-awareness that can help them look inward to understand where they are deficient. Most men just are not trained to think that way.
Women are. They have greater levels of self-awareness because the power base constantly challenges them to prove themselves. By frequently looking inward, they can spot gaps or weaknesses in specific skill sets. The greater self-awareness of women gives them the ability to improve more often.
Well-designed studies show that women are more likely to lead by inspiration. They are good at transforming the attitudes and beliefs of others. They are better at helping people align with meaningful tasks and gaining a sense of purpose. These skills are seen as critical components of superior leadership.
Empathy Over ‘Command’
As it turns out, the qualities of kindness and a caring attitude are excellent leadership skills. Women are better at this than men. In Medieval times a strong male commander may have been the best way to motivate people – with fear and harsh consequences for failure. However, we live in modern times when all people expect to be treated with a certain level of understanding and respect.
The best leaders can establish an emotional connection with their followers, who will eagerly accept tasks and do their best because they want to return the kindness they receive from a leader. That’s the way women lead.