Women in leadership postion

What Makes Women Great Leaders Rise to the Top?

By: Agata Will

When women talk about leadership and what good leaders are, they refer to leaders as “he” and “him,” and it caught my attention.

The status of women in leadership is not looking so great, and there’s a visible gender leadership gap in universities, businesses, courts, unions, and religious institutions, as male leaders outnumber female leaders by large margins. For example, in the U.S. 75% of State Legislators are men, and only 25% are women. The gap is even worse in Congress where only 19% are women, and finally women are almost non-existent among governors equating to only 6%.

The chancellor of Germany and the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve are women. General Motors, IBM and Lockheed Martin are run by women. Not only do women control the majority of consumer goods buying decisions, but 60% of the world’s university graduates are women. In the U.S., surprisingly 40% of households’ main breadwinners are women. In the under-30 category, women earn more than their male colleagues. All these factors make it pretty apparent that we’re at the cusp of the shift of global gender balances. The key is to stop wondering what is wrong with women who don’t make it to the top, and to analyze what is right with companies and leaders that do foster gender balanced leadership teams – and take advantage of the competitive edge that it gives them. It’s not about women taking over, it’s about the companies that embraced gender balanced leadership and are now out running those without said balance.

Forbes points out several traits that women leaders naturally possess and tap into while raising to the top:

  1. Opportunity driven. They look for the glass half-full rather than focus on what’s missing. They adapt and stay positive in adverse circumstances.
  2. Often skeptical they see what others fail to, and they’re not scared to peel the layers to uncover the root of the pain point. They know what cards to play when and don’t let their egos get in the way of smart business.
  3. Don’t fall victim of the stereotype of women as emotional leaders because it’s their pursuit of excellence that makes them unhappy with the status quo and makes them explorers for bigger and better things.
  4. They can smell opportunity a mile away and understand what it takes to sustain momentum: 100% focus on the objective. Women like control, but not in the sense of being in charge but to not lose focus or disturb their balance and rhythm when they’re concentrated on accomplishing a goal.
  5. Purposeful and meaningful. Women leaders care especially not to disappoint themselves and others who count on them. They root for the underdogs and care to inspire and motivate their teams to reach higher standards because their attention to detail makes it impossible for them to cut corners or expect special privileges.
  6. Traditions and family. They naturally are glue within their homes and in the workplace and ensure that legacies and traditions don’t waver. They feed the roots the right nutrients and feed the foundation of families and teams reinforcing the mission and values of organizations. No wonder in family-owned businesses women are naturally assuming more leadership roles these days.

It’s no surprise that men are preferred for stereo typically masculine jobs which require independence, control and dominance, while women are preferred for jobs which utilize ‘communal’ traits such as empathy, kindness and emotional expressiveness. Yet 65% of women and 56% of men report to view good leaders as connected to their teams and supportive of their growth through sharing their knowledge. It’s time women used their strengths in managerial roles as that would make them more effective, intuitive and coherent leaders.