“A woman is like a tea bag, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Although leadership is not gender specific we find a very few women leaders globally due to cultural, religious, social and other factors including glass ceiling. The good news is that currently women are kicking glass ceiling and excelling globally to carve a niche for themselves. For instance, women leaders including Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Ursula Burns, Meg Whitman, and Sheryl Sandberg stood out from others due to their extraordinary contribution in their areas to become a source of inspiration for ambitious women leaders globally. Despite several constraints women are proving their credentials and capabilities on par with men. They are not behind in any way when compared with other male leaders.
Historically women played a key role in leadership positions and the same is gaining momentum with more number of women leaders playing an instrumental role in leading in all sectors. However, presently the percentage of women leaders globally is still low when compared with male leaders. It is basically due to gender discrimination and above all, perceptions of men towards women that prevent women from excelling as global leaders.
Strengths of Women
Women are usually collaborative while men are competitive by nature. Collaboration is essential for smooth functioning of organization and equally essential is competitive spirit without which organizations cannot succeed. Blending both collaboration and competition is essential to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness. Here are some of the strengths of women:
Biologically women have a huge potential and are compassionate by nature. They empathize with others and are sensible to others’ feelings. They are good at soft skills and interpersonal skills. They can handle stress levels better than men. By nature, men are more aggressive. However, women are soft and well-behaved. Women are also good at hidden data of communication. That is why they know the knack of understanding male egos, emotions and feelings better and act accordingly. Women are leaders at home. They lead their spouses and children effectively. They are more responsible toward work. Additionally, they are expert in multitasking.
There are several myths on women leadership. For instance, women cannot perform certain roles in military organizations. The truth is that they too have the fire like men and they also have ambition to excel on par with men. Additionally, women stand up for they believe in and they work with flexibility and compromise.
Are Women Better Leaders than Men?
Women have more challenges than men such as they have to manage their family, take care of children, and do other household chores. Additionally, they encounter organizational politics and gender discrimination in the workplace.
Women are basically leaders as it is a well admitted fact that behind the success of every man there is a woman. Historically, most women led behind the scenes by guiding men. Businesses too can improve if they encourage women to lead as they can bring in lots of value to the table to improve organizational bottom lines.
There is a strong perception that men are promoted due to potential while women are promoted due to performance. It is basically because leadership is synonymous with men, not women. Hence, there must be shift in the attitude and perception of the people toward leadership and women. Leadership is incomplete without the active participation of women leaders. Global Inc must spot, support and groom women leaders to keep them in the leadership pipeline to avert organizational eventuality.
A Blueprint to Build Women Leaders Globally
Currently the efforts to build women as leaders globally are lukewarm. Hence, there must be a strong will and clear-cut strategy for grooming women into leadership roles and responsibilities. Here are some of them:
• Encourage girl scouts globally where the leadership skills are cultivated early among the women.
• Remove the prevailing strong perception that men are promoted due to potential while women are promoted due to performance.
• Adopt an integrated approach and ensure coordinated efforts from all stakeholders including global organizations, women associations, nonprofits, and government to build women leaders globally to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.
Race to top leadership slots not an easy thing. It is very challenging to go to the top slots and stay. That too, when a woman reaches a top slot, she is really far more capable than men. There is need for all of us to break the stereotypes. Women should break their traditional mental and psychological barriers and move forward toward leadership roles and responsibilities. They must work harder to prove themselves to excel as leaders in this male dominated society. Remember that the society cannot grow when one sex is denied with opportunities. It is essential to let both sexes grow equally based on merit and talent. It requires empathy on the part of men and broad heart to handhold women to groom them as global leaders. If women also participate in leadership roles and responsibilities, we will find a better global society with lots of prosperity and happiness.
Both men and women are biologically different. That difference cannot be treated as deficiency. It is natural for them to lead differently. Let us understand and appreciate the differences and respect them. Let us look at women not from gender perspective but from human perspective, and judge their competencies and qualifications purely based on merit. Let us look at women with new lenses. Handhold women and take them forward to leadership positions to enable them to endeavor and explore to achieve leadership effectiveness and success.
Note: This article has been updated and adapted from my award-winning book, ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs.’ Here is the link to purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. International Leadership Guru
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 37 years of experience and the author of over 40 books including the award-winning ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’ URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X. He is a C-Suite advisor and a sought-after keynote speaker globally. He is passionate about women leadership (#HeForShe?Commitment Number:1874300) and making a difference in their lives. He shares his leadership wisdom freely with the world on his four blogs. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030: . He is a dynamic, energetic and inspirational leadership speaker. He can be reached at: [email protected]