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Female Leadership Skills

Why Do Organisations Need More Female Leadership Skills?

Female Leadership Skills

In addition to their expertise, intelligent women also contribute something more to the managerial level. Something that we urgently need: Female Leadership Skills.

by Myriam Best

Female leadership skills are more in demand than ever

“Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men.,” Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic advocates in an article published in the Harvard Business Review.1

Humility, however, is only one of four characteristics that is currently missing in many executives and that is urgently needed. While performances based on assertiveness and convincing skills are frequently measured during the course of a career, the so-called soft skills are hardly valued or all-too-often remain perceived as nice-to-haves only.

As early as eight years ago the Harvard Business Review was assessing a large panel of executive leaders by means of 360° feedback evaluations. Team members, colleagues and managers assessed individuals in management positions on the 16 most critical leadership competencies. It thereby emerged that women:

  • develop themselves better and more proactively
  • take more initiative
  • work in a more goal-oriented fashion
  • are better are establishing relationships
  • are better at inspiring and motivating others2

This list also includes abilities that are defined as soft skills, including empathy and sensitivity. These are the so-called female leadership skills that organisations now need.

Professional life has changed markedly in recent years. Employees seek a sense of purpose in their work and wish to be able to identify with their organisation. Employers expect an agile way to operate that is achieved through flexibility, networking and teamwork. To achieve this, millennials and companies themselves require that their managers do not act in a top-down authoritarian manner, but rather lead their teams and their business with empathy, inspiration, motivation and sensitivity.

How do we get there?

Why are these female leadership skills not yet adequately in place at the managerial level? In this regard Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states: "In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence."3 We tend therefore to surround ourselves with people who are like us. Managerial positions are often awarded by men to men. Not infrequently, women as well as men become accustomed to a harsher environment in order to advance their careers. However, we at HR Campus wish to see more teams and organisations led by women and men with excellent soft skills. We have therefore considered what companies and women can do so that valuable female leadership skills are grown and applied more frequently.

Change dominant behavioural patterns

Soft skills should be more appreciated, encouraged and valued at all levels. Performance should not only be measured on its own, but also e.g. interactions with other employees or the approach to projects. Potential managers with the needed skills can thus be recognised and encouraged earlier.

Additionally, dominant behaviour patterns should be changed; here some food for thought on this:

  • Cultivate an empathetic leadership culture in your own company and clarify the bias between female leadership skills and traditional male management styles.
  • Introduce a “do-not-interrupt” rule. Men are more likely to interrupt women than vice versa. Employees and management should allow each other to express themselves entirely and to respect the opinions and ideas of others before they are rejected or criticised.
  • Correct the unconscious bias – in regard to men as well as women.
  • Offer all employees the chance to learn and grow. In particular, encourage less visible employees to take on and master challenges or offer them specific mentoring.
  • Make sure that all  positions allow for balancing adequately family and professional responsibilities. Do not criticise women who do not attend an evening event because they are caring for their children, but rather praise them for  managing so well to juggle everything.

More empathy, more inspiration

Women mutually support each other to bring female leadership skills to the management levels. Encourage one another and ease the path for your successors. Provide support when your colleague offers a good idea at a meeting. The more women who attend a meeting, the more they will have the courage to offer valuable inputs. The more women who work at the managerial level, the more likely other women will have the courage to submit an application. Recommend your colleagues for open positions and be a part of a companywide network.

Mutual support is not the only thing that helps: Women and men can gain strength in that they appear self-aware and deliberate.Assertiveness training may help if you feel uncomfortable speaking at meetings.Yet, do not try to imitate the behaviour of dominant employees, address instead when such is not appropriate.We at HR Campus encourage you: Not to become accustomed to an overly competitive mindset, but rather nurnuture the valuable female leadership skills that we so urgently need.

*Sources:

1 https://hbr.org/2013/08/why-do-so-many-incompetent-men (12.03.2020)

2 https://hbr.org/2019/06/research-women-score-higher-than-men-in-most-leadership-skills?utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&utm_campaign=hbr (12.03.2020)

3 https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-citings/women-and-glass-ceiling/articleshow/31974246.cms?from=mdr (13.04.20)

Published: 28. April 2020

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