The past few years have seen exciting changes in approaches to leadership, which are paving the way towards a more diverse future.
Traditional, “masculine” leadership traits are being supplanted by qualities which are stereotypically considered to be “feminine”, causing not only a shift in the business landscape, but furthering the cause for equality in general.
For many years, leadership has been a predominantly male arena and as a result, typically “masculine” qualities such as decisiveness, resilience and confidence, have been viewed as paramount. These qualities are certainly valuable traits for a leader to possess; however, a softer style is emerging utilising a different skill set, which is elevating leadership to new heights – and this can only mean great news for women.
Strong and brilliant female leaders are demonstrating that a “feminine” approach can be just as (if not more) effective than a traditional, “masculine” one. Most recently, Jacinda Ardern’s inspiring response to the devastating terror attacks on two New Zealand Mosques last month has shone a spotlight on this issue, receiving global recognition for her exemplary leadership example and opening eyes to the benefits of feminine leadership.
Of course, it’s not only women who can benefit from these changing attitudes. A great leader is a great leader, regardless of sex, and there are many men who will naturally possess these traits too. Ultimately, greater gender equality will liberate both women and men to embrace their individual leadership qualities within a fairer and more diverse playing field.
In the meantime, by focusing on developing our own feminine leadership traits, not only will we get ahead and take our businesses to new levels of success; we will also help promote a wider acceptance of the validity and effectiveness of feminine leadership in general.
We’ve put together four key traits we believe form the foundation of brilliant feminine leadership, which we can embrace to move our own leadership forwards.
4 Key Feminine Leadership Traits:
1. Communication & Collaboration
Women tend to be good communicators and when applied within a leadership context, effective communication promotes trust and respect and inspires increased creativity and productivity. When channels of communication are open, employees feel able to contribute collectively – more minds are better than one and successful leaders understand the value of this collaborative approach over a limiting, top-down, authoritarian one.
2. Humility & vulnerability
For some, the ability to ask for help when needed and to admit to not having all the answers all the time, may feel like showing weakness. But in reality, this is far from the truth. Instead this demonstrates real courage and honesty and is a common hallmark of strong female leaders. Not only does this promote positive professional relationships, but it also encourages a culture of honesty and a sense of community within a company.
3. Empathy & Compassion
Women are naturally empathetic and this is a valuable yet underrated leadership quality. Conscious leaders are in tune with their employees’ needs and feelings and this sensitive approach fosters appreciation and loyalty, which in turn leads to increased productivity.
4. Patience & Forward thinking
Truly great leaders need to have an eye on the long-term aims, as well as the immediate goals. Women are often natural planners and therefore within a leadership role, find it easy to keep the bigger picture in sight. Short-term wins are not always conducive to long-term success and therefore, patience and a forward thinking attitude can prove to be invaluable assets in leadership.
The underlying thread linking each of these key feminine leadership traits is employee engagement and satisfaction. By shifting the focus to be more human-centred, companies get more out of their employees – happier employees mean enhanced productivity. With the value of employee engagement becoming increasingly recognised, we expect to see a greater demand for feminine leadership traits. So now is the time to take advantage of our natural abilities, to lead more successfully in the future and help bridge the gaps in diversity and equality!
By Gemma Coldwell - Contributing editor
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