By and large, women across the globe get projected as submissive, less competitive, less assertive, and incapable of good leadership. Yet, recent world statistics show the remarkable success of women leadership in every field. Women trailblazers are beating stereotypes and changing global narratives of leadership with their profound influence and capabilities. They always have the desire to compete, to accomplish and prove themselves to be great leaders.
Speaking at a leadership event in Singapore, Barrack Obama had once said –
The world is increasingly recognizing women’s leadership for its advantages and outcomes.
According to Mckensy, there has been increase from 29% in 2015 to 44% of companies having more than 3 women in C-suite.
Japan Has Set Targets for Increasing Women in Leadership Positions by 2020 – Catalyst.org
Worldwise, Women-led organizations are growing at a rate of 5 %.
These statistics call for celebration for more than one reason:
Firstly, these show that women worldwide masterfully handle politics, business, entrepreneurship, and social enterprises with more motivation and engagement. Secondly, it validates that the core feminine traits of empathy, compassion, high emotional-quotient, and competence are a leadership-advantage today.
As per the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report from Babson College and Smith College, more than 250 million women are entrepreneurs in the world today. Globally women are outshining men as entrepreneurs. A recent study from Boston Consulting found that for every dollar of investment, female-run start-ups generated 78 cents in revenue, whereas male-run start-ups generated only 31 cents.
The number of female entrepreneurs in the US has increased by over 30 percent since 2007. The Asia Pacific region (APAC), women entrepreneurship is booming. It is great since women have chosen to take charge of their dreams and ambitions while thriving in a work-culture they like.
Singapore stands 3rd when it comes to providing the right entrepreneurship ecosystem to great potential entrepreneurs. It is not surprising that in less than half a decade from 2015, the online retail industry witnessed an impressive 28% growth spurt of self-employed women. E-commerce provides great leadership opportunities to women since it provides the much-needed flexible work schedules – the lack of which results in many women quitting careers midway. Many women like Singapore’s Tan Hooi Ling and Rachel Lim are now role models in e-commerce due to impressive leadership and management skills.
Women are setting the right precedent of great leadership in businesses too. Globally many start-ups, small businesses, eCommerce, and big enterprises in business have witnessed great gains out of women’s leadership. Women-owned businesses generate a whopping $1.9 trillion revenue worldwide – a figure that was an implausible a few decades ago. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Pepsico CEO Indira Nooyi, former eBay chief and new CEO of Hewlett-Packard Meg Whitman, former Google employee and now CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer, are leading by example.
In politics, the global representation of women in the national parliament has seen a significant rise from 11.8 percent in 1998 to 23.5 percent in 2018. Philippines and Nepal today have the highest representation of women with 30 percent. It was a significant rise from ten years ago when the Philippines and Nepal stood at 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
Women worldwide are proving to be harbingers of a new revolution in childcare, health, education, social needs, and justice. A UN research on the Indian local councils or panchayats found that 62 percent higher drinking water projects in councils led by women. Many municipal councils across the globe, like Norway, showed more childcare coverage when women-led. In social enterprises, women have a clear advantage with their empathy-driven work approach that ensures productivity in organizations without compromising justice and fair play. The natural nurturing tendency of women makes them a great fit as social entrepreneurs.
What makes women better leaders?
Boston consulting found that the global GDP could be boosted by $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion with equal participation of men and women in entrepreneurship. Impressive stats are slowly but surely establishing that the collaborative people-oriented leadership of women has a greater advantage than the competitive task-oriented leadership styles of men. These leadership styles have statistically led to more productivity and profits while building a great work culture in organizations.
There are several innate traits of women that bolster great leadership. Research showed that women outsmart men in many leadership skills.
- Women have high EQ: Many studies have shown that women have a higher EQ than men, which is a great leadership-advantage. EQ involves Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Research has shown that EQ is considered more important than IQ and is the strongest predictor of performance ( Research by EQ provider TalentSmart)
- Better at Building Team Spirit: Women leaders are more adept at handling interpersonal conflicts within an organization by holistically looking at things and are better communicators. Women are likely to have a team-oriented, collaborative approach that helps optimize productivity in an organization. Being more considering the needs and personal distress of employees is seen as attractive in a leader. Employees feel more supported and cared for. Naturally, that leads to more commitment to work.
- More Resilient: The biggest trait that helps a workplace survive any storm is the resilience of its leader. Studies found that women leaders are more resilient to workplace stress. In stressful situations, women were found better at remaining focussed and maintaining composure. The world has witnessed UN women leaders’ resilience in the Ebola crisis in Africa to the remarkable resilience of women leaders in the current COVID situation.
- More Flexible and Adaptable: Women are generally quicker to rethink and rework on an old strategy that is no longer paying off. They are more to find new ways with adaptability. Women leaders are found to be champions of change and transformation with their powerful communication, creative approach to problem-solving, inspiring employees, and developing a better strategic perspective at the workplace.
- Build Better Workplace Cultures: According to Harvard Business Review research, women displayed bold leadership with high integrity and honesty. Women are seen to put more emphasis on ethics over the business. There are fewer chances of conflict and workplace harassment. It ultimately leads to more performance and productivity. An organization with a woman leader has a better promise of workplace security, ethics, and employee welfare with chances of sexual harassment, bullying, and conflicts.
A big study conducted across 91 countries by Peterson Institute for International Economics, involving 21,980 firms, revealed that that business that has women in the C-suite makes more profit. Employees have reported more job satisfaction and motivation under a woman leader.
Why is the number of women in top leadership positions still less?
Pew Research has found that only 26 women are CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, which is 5.2 percent of the total female population. It is almost the same for Fortune 1000 companies, where the percentage stands at 5.4. Clearly, not many women are in leadership. It is the case in almost every field of work. Socio-cultural factors and gender stereotypes have repeatedly failed to let women reach their highest growth potential. Statistically, over 60 percent of women leave the workforce and never return. Listen to Robin Hauser talking about likability dilemma for Women Leaders.
Most women across the world are expected to prioritize family over business. They are fulfilling the role of primary caregivers of a family, pregnancy, and motherhood. It is a daunting task when other external roles at work are combined. More women, therefore, decide to quit their careers when there are no financial concerns. There is gender disparity in almost every field when it comes to evaluating men’s and women’s leadership capabilities. More organizations still tend to rank leadership styles of men higher than females.
Women are still not given enough leadership opportunities.
In politics, most countries still stand below the global benchmark of 30 percent representation of women in parliament. Most countries in the world never had a women leader. Conservative, gender-biased, and misogynistic approach is again to be blamed. Countries like US supporting Women leaders in a big way, has never elected woman as their country’s President.
Women leaders managed the Covid-19 crisis better
Most recently, the world has witnessed pioneering leadership by women in handling the Covid-19 crisis. Women leaders in countries like are fighting the coronavirus situation with an iron fist, even as the global pandemic is shattering world health and economy. The recent news reports evinced how women-led countries have handled COVID better. Topped the list of best performers were Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Norway Prime minister Erna Solberg, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Taiwan Tresident Tsai Ing-wen and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
These female leaders set the benchmark by leading their nations through the COVID pandemic with excellent crisis management and leadership. Instead of a totalitarian dictatorship, these leaders opted for a more human-centric approach that clearly put human health and security above everything else. The outcomes were striking lower death rates and several cases in their nations. All these leaders had one thing in common- incredible resilience and commitment to the safety of their people.
We are living times of great uncertainty in fleeting moments. It is the first time the world is going through a situation with all the four attributes of VUCA, i.e., Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity
As such, it is crucial for the people in power to be more open to more agile and be ready for quick and frequent changes to lead the world. These trying times need a more flexible and inclusive style of leadership by women. In the words of Madeleine Albright, National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) Chairman says –
A Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council mentioned that women leadership is a perquisite in peacebuilding and eventually sustainable livelihood. In any nation, and the world at large, development and peace close goes hand-in-hand. Statistics say that a peacebuilding agreement that involves a woman leader is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years. Clearly, women’s leadership gains do not stop at economic growth. Their role is central to global peacebuilding and sustainable livelihood. While there is still much room for more acknowledgment and acceptance of global women leadership, the good news, for now, is the world today is more open to the transformative leadership styles of women.