Power to Her: Women Leaders Are Changing the World
I’m speaking at the Power to Her virtual event at Ivy Tech and inspired by the women I work with and how they are committed to empowering women together.
Women are paving the way for a new style of leadership that is confident, authentic, and highly effective. Catalyst reportsthat the share of women in senior management is increasing incrementally. Thankfully, the comprehensive picture looks more promising.
The presence of women in leadership roles is certainly important but I am encouraged that more women are leading in other transformative ways. Leader is not just a job title – it’s a set of strengths and a professional code of conduct that women are very well suited to demonstrate. Organizations are actively seeking women for leadership roles and female entrepreneurs are starting businesses at a faster rate than any other time in history.
Hillary Clinton changed history as the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. She has also changed the perception of what women leaders can look like and how they can act. Kamala Harris broke the glass ceiling as the first woman Vice President in the United States.
Gone are the days when women leaders went to work in masculine suits, shortly cropped hair and sans makeup to blend in with the men in the office. Today, women leaders can embrace their own unique style, femininity, and not relinquish their strength, command, or executive presence required to be effective.
Here is a look at what makes women great leaders.
Emotional Intelligence Rules
Simply defined by the Initiative One Leadership Institute, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as recognize the emotions of others and groups. This path between feeling and reason is something women do particularly well. EQ is a predictor of professional success and personal excellence, according to Mind Tools, it also affects an organization’s profitability and performance.
Women have heightened emotional intelligence because they tend to practice empathy to understand what others see, think, and feel. They understand and embrace differences and diversity of thought leads to stronger teams. A savvy leader is able to read the people dynamics, and then assess the needs involved and manage the situation effectively. Women are also adept at active listening and validate the individual speaking with their full focus and attention. They know the importance of listening with your ears and body language.
Women Get Stuff Done
The iconic SNL skit with Tina Fey riffing about how “bitches get stuff done” referring to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run makes us laugh but the sentiment is clear. Women are efficient and effective leaders. They delegate by grooming and developing emerging leaders and use their vision, vulnerability, humility and collaboration to accomplish great things.
As the time honored African proverb says – “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Women know the power of teams and assemble and grow inclusive groups where people have authentic buy-in because their ideas matter, their input is valued, and they are acknowledged for the contributions.
Prioritize Developing Others
While strong women leaders are lifelong learners always eager to add new skills, experiences, and competencies to their professional toolkit – they also focus on developing others. A mentor taught me to ask this question regularly in order to help develop individuals on my team. How can I help you be more successful in this role? Coaching and developing others to play to their strengths is gratifying but the reverse mentorship and teachable moments are equally impactful to the leader in charge.
Communication Is Everything
Savvy women leaders know they have to customize how they communicate with each individual to honor their needs and personality. But there are 4 pillars of communication that women use successfully to deliver a message, which come from feminine leadership expert, Monique Tallon
- Ask for Input – make room for ideas from your team and collaborators.
- Stay Open – be willing to listen to all ideas to create an environment of inclusiveness. You may not act on every idea but your willingness to validate ideas by listening matters.
- Let it Roll – don’t take it personally, develop a thick skin and know that not everybody will agree. That’s OK.
- Be Humble – don’t let your pride get in the way of good ideas coming from others. Be willing to admit mistakes and fail forward publicly so others can learn from your recovery and resilience.
Smart women leaders ask for help. One person rarely accomplishes great things alone but a team can accomplish extraordinary things together.
Women Get Better With Age
Gender and age bias is a significant hurdle for many women, but I argue that women over the age of 40 are not past their prime. They’re just getting started and have much more ahead of them than they do behind them. This message was celebrated with the SheThePeople 40 Over 40 awards of 2020 by honoring forty women who are disrupting, re-inventing, and making an impact, over the age of 40.
The Power of Failure and Recovery
Women are creative problem solvers motivated by challenges but they are also resilient when things don’t go as planned. They handle crises with compassion and patience and can check their ego at the door when the going gets tough and they need to roll up their sleeves and do what ever it takes to solve the problem.
I’m not suggesting that women leaders are better than men – just that they lead differently and successfully. I also believe we need more women in leadership roles to strike a better balance in the career world. Women make up half the population – they make 80% of purchasing decisions and reflect the majority of consumer interests. Women are no longer the niche market – women are THE market and it’s an exciting time for women in the career world.
I ask all women to support a fellow woman in her pursuit of leadership. Throw the ladder down, across, and sideways to help another woman find her way.
Lead on women, you’ve got this!