According to Forbes, only 2% of organizations have majority-female leadership teams.
Yet, over the years, ongoing research has shown that women bring a variety of powerful qualities to the table when they’re in leadership––and their teams thrive as a result.
Add to that a global pandemic that’s transformed the way we approach work and leadership as a whole and, as it turns out, we’re now in an era that demands female leadership more than ever.
So this Women’s History Month, we’re asking: What are the qualities that make women such powerful leaders in today’s world?
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
While the pandemic highlighted how important empathy can be in the face of chaos and uncertainty, the reality is: empathy has always been important. The only difference is that now, the pandemic has pushed many to actively seek it out as a quality in their leaders. Supporters and team members are human––and they want to be treated as such.
While empathy increased overall amid the pandemic, data shows that women in leadership are more likely to provide emotional support and check in on their team’s well being. They’re attuned to the emotional states of others and tend to feel the pain someone else might be going through to a greater degree.
This means that whether you need to take a mental health day or have found yourself struggling with work-life balance––a female leader will not only get it, but will be well-equipped to help you navigate through whatever rough patch you might be facing.
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While diversity is not a new priority by any means, the last two years have seen a major push for better representation. Research shows that female-led teams are better equipped for driving inclusion. In a study from the NC Kenan-Flagler Business School, it was found that female-led organizations ranked 21% higher in their understanding of diversity.
What’s more, a study from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company showed women who come from underrepresented backgrounds are twice as likely as women overall “to spend a substantial amount of time on DEI work outside their formal job responsibilities.”
Women are uniquely suited to grow and lead teams that are mindful about inclusivity and represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences––thus better serving their teams, customers, and communities overall.
“Diverse teams make better products.”
Hilary Doe, NationBuilder President
Throughout the pandemic, leaders had to stay flexible to keep up with ever-changing circumstances. And women were able to keep up with these shifts a bit more easily than their male counterparts.
And we’re not out of the woods yet. Two years into the pandemic and there’s still continued demand that teams stay on their toes and adjust at a moment’s notice––so this is a skill that continues to be highly important.
But what about beyond the pandemic? From 2019 to 2021 interest in remote work grew by 360%, while demand for a 4-day work week continues to rise as well. We’re on the cusp of quite a bit of change and leaders will need to be open-minded and ready to adapt––and based on the data thus far, women are uniquely equipped to innovate and meet their team’s needs.
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It’s no secret that women have had to face rejection and fight assumptions about their qualifications from the dawn of time, so it should come as no surprise that one major trademark of a female leader is resilience. In a study by the Harvard Business Review, women ranked higher than men on 17 of 19 characteristics of great leaders––with resilience ranked in the top two.
Why is resilience so important to leadership? Because when unexpected circumstances come up––and they likely will––a resilient leader will step up to the challenge, even if they never thought they’d have to face it.
For example, when the pandemic hit, leaders had to navigate a completely unprecedented situation that greatly impacted their work and teams. There was no roadmap for how to lead amid a pandemic––and yet, they needed to. And women consistently stepped up with grace, despite facing many setbacks, to act as a grounding force for their teams.
So, as you navigate this new era, stop and ask yourself: “What kind of leadership am I seeking?”
And perhaps you’ll find that female leadership is the answer.