On National Women’s Day, it’s interesting to reflect on how the commentary on women in business has evolved over the last few decades. First there was a call for women to be given opportunities in management roles, followed by a push for women to be represented at the helm of companies. For women to succeed “in a man’s world”, they needed to be more like men. However, today, when I look at the female business leaders I engage with on a regular basis, it is precisely their feminine attributes that make them successful at what they do.
Now I know I am generalising, but many of the attributes that women typically and naturally have, are vital skills for leadership in today’s workplace. In fact, I would go so far as to say that men in leadership positions are consciously improving their EQ and adapting their behaviour by adopting typically feminine characteristics.
Here’s what men are learning from their female co-workers.
Empathy and compassion
Women have a natural sense of self-awareness, which is a prerequisite to having awareness of others. This is important in today’s workforce trends, where leaders are required to motivate their teams rather than rule with authority. Women tend to have a greater ability to understand why someone reacts a certain way. They genuinely care about the person and therefore have situational understanding rather than a “fix’it” mentality.
Now I know this is a contentious one… many would argue that multi-tasking isn’t possible, and it results in sub-standard results when you don’t focus on one thing at a time. However, no one can dispute that women can have multiple bookmarks open at a time. This skill helps women to find holistic solutions and see the bigger picture rather than solving problems in isolation.
Again, I am generalising, but because women wear multiple hats every day, they tend to be extremely productive in the time available to them, to ensure that they can make time for family and social commitments.
Women can talk! They can also listen… which is key to building strong relationships with customers, employees and colleagues. They assimilate information on the go and put pieces of the puzzle together. As a result of good communication, they are also good at seeing things from another’s perspective. They are also more likely to express praise and appreciation within the workplace.
Women tend to have more “feelings”. Their sensitivity means they have a greater “gut feel” of a situation. They somehow “know without evidence” because they pay attention to nuances and cues that are generally not picked up by men. This intuition can often save a situation from developing or pre-empt a potential crisis.
Ask for help
Men run a business like they drive a car… they go fast, refuse to admit when they are lost and won’t ask for directions. Women are unlikely to start a journey without knowing exactly where they are going. They are not afraid to acknowledge their weaknesses and ask for help.
There’s a sisterhood among women, who share the load with each other. This collaboration and team work is carried through to the workplace. Women in business are therefore comfortable with a flat structure within the organisation, where hierarchy and authority are less important than having equally valuable roles and contributions to a project.
To all the amazing women in business… we salute you.
To celebrate National Women’s Day, I am offering a complimentary coaching session to the first 3 women in business who respond to me… because I know you are not afraid to ask for help!
P.S. Yes, my wife did write this! 😉