This year there are a record number of women running for office. And while that’s promising and inspiring, it’s also long past due.
Not only do we 50.8% of the U.S. population, we’re also better leaders. Of course, that still doesn’t change the fact that we earn less money and rank lower socially than men.
However, a 2012 survey from the leadership development consultancy firm Zenger/Folkman, along with 30 years of research, found that we are in fact better leaders than men.
As explained in the Harvard Business Review article “Are Women Better Leaders Than Men?” Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write;
“Similarly, most stereotypes would have us believe that female leaders excel at “nurturing” competencies such as developing others and building relationships, and many might put exhibiting integrity and engaging in self-development in that category as well. And in all four cases our data concurred — women did score higher than men.
But the women’s advantages were not at all confined to traditionally women’s strengths. In fact, at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts.”
More recently, a study led by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, head of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the BI Norwegian Business School, found women are better leaders than men because men were outperformed in the following categories; initiative and clear communication; openness and ability to innovate; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting.
So, why aren’t more of us running more businesses and being elected to public office?
For starters, we still live in a male-dominated world that’s been built around the 1950s stereotype. Men are the breadwinners, while we stay home cooking and cleaning. Those also those stereotypes that we aren’t strong, assertive, and resilient like men.
Besides those stereotypes, it’s also a challenge for us to balance our home lives with the responsibilities of being a leader.
Of course, we can overcome these barriers. And we are. There’s been an increase in women-owned businesses and women running for office. But, if you still believe that you’re not cut-out to lead, here are 10 reasons that prove otherwise.
1. We’re better at communication.
“Communication is the real work of leadership,” says HBS professor Nitin Nohria.
Great leaders, notes Nohria, “spend the bulk of their time communicating.
Guess what? When it comes to verbalizing what we think, we’re much better at that then our male counterparts.
2. We value work-life balance.
“Women are great leaders because we are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills,” says Amy Killoran, creative manager, I Love Travel.
“It’s easier to approach a women leader with a personal request, or a sensitive question,” adds Killoran. “I care about my team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance. I also find women more proactive in becoming mentors, and sometimes it’s already such an open and communicative relationship that the transition to mentor is easy.”
3. We focus on personal growth.
As noted in an article for She Knows, “Women are readers and learners. We are very open to and interested in finding ways to continuously improve our personal skills. This focus on our development makes us more self-aware, which enables us to have a very strong emotional intelligence, a key trait of successful leaders.”
4. We can engage and motivate others.
Over 40 years of research shows that we’re better at engaging and motivating employees. This is because we’re more effective at setting expectations, building relationships with subordinates, encouraging a positive work environment, and providing opportunities for employers to develop professionally.
5. We’re more patient.
According to a 2011 study in Britain, it was found that we are more patient than men. In fact, when subjects were asked how long would they wait before angrily walking-off, five out of ten men would wait up to a minute. As for women, only one in ten women said they would leave this quickly.
6. We pay attention to details.
“Women tend to absorb more information through their senses and store more of it in the brain for other uses than men do,” writes Rebecca Shambaugh, Founder of Women in Leadership and Learning (WILL) for the Huffington Post.
“Therefore, women generally have more interest in details and pay more attention to them than men do.”
7. We have stronger business ethics.
Because we’ve had to deal with misogyny, sexual harassment or assault, and toxic work environments, we’re not only familiar with proper business protocol, but also considerate of the rights of others as we pursue fairness.
8. We take initiative and drive results.
In an update to the 2012 survey, Zenger Folkman found that women ranked highest in their ability to take initiative and drive results. Even more interesting was that we scored higher than men in 13 out of the 16 leadership competencies.
9. We can handle a crisis.
“Many women, especially moms, are trained caretakers and know how to deal with crisis situations at home with compassion and patience,” says Huma Gruaz, president and CEO, Alpaytac PR.
“These attributes become very relevant when a woman leader is dealing with crisis situations whether this is related to HR or [clients].”
10. We wear multiple hats.
As I wrote previously wrote, “Moms wear several hats. We’re teachers, cooks, chauffeurs, doctors, and therapists. And if we don’t possess a certain skills, we’re not afraid to ask other moms or seek out expert advice.”
As a leader, you’re also expected to wear multiple hats. Think about all of the responsibilities you have as a business owner. You also have to be an accountant, marketer, and manager.
At the same time, effective leaders seek out help and surround themselves with talented individuals to assist them in areas where they’re weak.
For example, when I opened my practice I did all the bookkeeping and payroll. While I could handle the basics, it was time-consuming. Also, as my practice grew, the accounting for the business became more complicated. Instead of taking a chance and making a mistake, I outsourced this to trained and trusted accountant.
So, the next time you don’t think you have what it takes to become an elected official or business owner, realize that you do have what it takes to be an effective leader.