Gender should not be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader. A person's leadership abilities should depend on their strengths and personality traits. However, the truth is, men and women are different; they do not always have the same leadership qualities and are not always fit for the same positions. Research shows that there are not many women in leadership positions, both in business and politics but the ones that are there, are indeed great. Here are reasons women make great leaders.
They have their ego in check
Ego affirms a leader's ability to take charge and we all know that ego tends to get in the way of good decision-making. According to studies, women exhibit ego differently and are good at decision-making with their ego held 'in-check.' This is a key advantage in working with board of directors, partners and customers. A great example of a female leader with their ego in check is non-other than the honourable Thuli Madonsela. Her character and poise say it all. Her soft approach, fairness and compassion stem from a leader who is not egotistic. Keeping your ego in check is an exercise in humility.
Women are naturally nurturing and excel at exhibiting 'nurturing competencies' like; relationship building, developing, inspiring, motivating and collaborating with others. Take Basetsana Khumalo for example, a beauty queen who is now an astute businesswoman. She has mentored and inspired many and continues to do so! This is an important trait in leadership because nurturing is a fundamental behaviour in driving success. Stereotypes however, would have us believe that female leaders excel at "nurturing" competencies better than men do, which is not always true.
Higher emotional intelligence
This is something that has gained momentum as an essential leadership trait. In order to create a great working environment and bring the best out of your employees as a leader, it is critical to demonstrate emotional intelligence. Research shows that women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men are, this kind of empathy fosters relationships.
When your emotional intelligence is high, you are able to sense how others are feeling and react appropriately. Our first female governor of the Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus has shown qualities of a leader with a high EQ. As governor, it is important to be authentic, communicate well, be a good listener and be able to think about your reactions. She was nothing short of that. This is critical to a great working environment and helps bring the best out of your employees.
They value work-life balance
It is easier to approach a woman leader with a personal request, or a sensitive question than it is with a man. This is because women value work that compliments their lives. They value finding a job that enables them to have a work-life balance because the responsibilities of leading a business on top of the responsibilities in your personal life can easily wear you down. Woman in leadership roles are seen to be more aware of the particular pitfalls that can challenge female workers who are also parents, but know that all employees need to maintain a healthy balance between work and life, regardless of their gender.
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