Recently I had lunch with a friend and we were chit-chatting about work, my business and women in leadership.
Reflecting on what qualities are needed for women at the top she noted surely the women you work with must be ‘masculine’. Referring of course to the notion that to succeed women tend to emulate men.
She did not understand the benefits of having women leading organisations if they were going to bring nothing different than men. What she was referring to is the notion that women feel they need to act like men to reach the top.
That is not at all true, that my clients are all ‘masculine’. Sure, they are successful, driven, ambitious, skilled and competent (amongst other qualities). ‘Masculine’, I would not call them.
They are each individual, and my job is to help them bring out their most genuine and best self, that sometimes even they don’t see. Whatever their innate traits are. To help them see what kind of leader they are. To help them fathom that they can go even higher.
Whilst this has been true over the last decades, and certainly, in certain industries that women needed to be like men to compete and to succeed, more and more organisations are incorporating ‘feminine’ traits into their business operations.
Relationship building, communication, empathy and intuitive thinking are values that are all being embraced. That is not to say other more ‘masculine’ traits such as competition, logical thinking, confidence are ignored.
Both men and women have a little of either of those sets of qualities.
It is my job to help individual leaders understand who they are and how they want to be in a way that is most aligned with their values and situation appropriate. Do they want to be assertive and establish boundaries with their teams? Or inquisitive and gracious when meeting with their sponsor/mentor? Do they need to be aggressive in the pursuit of their targets, whilst being nurturing to ensure the team is happy and with them all the way?
There have been numerous studies about the benefits to an organisation of women in leadership roles, and the bottom line is that it benefits the bottom line.
One such study was conducted by Credit Suisse and later confirmed by McKinsey found, “..that companies with at least one women on their board significantly outperformed those with none.”
Enough to show that a higher number of women at the top benefits all concerned.
To discuss your leadership issues or indeed any comments you have please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.