Whether in politics, business, or even the arts, men still occupy the majority of leadership positions worldwide, and women are underrepresented in many areas of public life. So at least in professional life, the sexes are not equal . Yet where female leaders are active, they often stand out positively from their male counterparts and manage to successfully maneuver companies and even states through political and economic crises. But why are women actually so successful at the top? They can fulfill multiple roles (supervisor, role model, and manager) simultaneously, adapt easily to change, and find creative solutions to complicated problems. There is much we can learn from strong female leaders. In this article, we explain some examples.
What do successful male and female leaders need to be able to do?
It doesn’t matter if they are men or women: Nowadays, different expectations are placed on managers. Managers have long had to bring not only technical knowledge, but also core social skills to the table. These include:
1) Organization of the work process. Successful managers manage to involve employees, set goals together and delegate tasks. Modern corporate culture emphasizes listening, transparency and teamwork.
2) Expertise. Successful managers are experts in their field, but always seek advice when needed.
3) Flexibility. The men and women at the top of a company should respond creatively, positively and, above all, flexibly to change.
4) Technical competence. In this age of digitalization, more and more managers are placing great emphasis on technical innovations. This includes, for example, the use of special apps and programs to simplify workflows and distribute tasks. Also very important is the security of communications and company data. That’s why many companies use a VPN ( Virtual Private Network ). A VPN also helps when searching for information on the web, because it solves the problem of “geoblocking” and thus even sites that are regionally restricted can be accessed.
Stereotypes of a leader
The successful executives should possess certain qualities in order to develop their skills and competencies. The problem is that many people still assign attributes such as dominance and self-confidence to the position of a leader. However, these are at the same time those attributes that are often attributed to men.
This false impression is in turn based on stereotypes. People tend to see women as empathetic, cooperative and caring. However, these are precisely the attributes with which a leader can be successful.
What female managers bring to the table
According to statistics, only one in three managers (29.4 percent) in Germany in 2019 was female. A pity, really, because female executives can bring a lot to the table. Here are a few examples:
New Zealand’s head of government Jacinda Ardern has been prime minister since October 2017 and was only 37 years old at the time. She shows that as a female leader, you can and indeed must bring supposedly masculine attributes such as a confident demeanor. Nevertheless, her work as a politician is also characterized by humanity and cooperation. In one of her statements as prime minister, she promised to form a “focused, empathetic and strong” government. She also made New Zealand the first country to include well-being as a measure of economic success.
Ardern incorporates the well-being of the entire population into her actions. Similarly, during the Corona pandemic, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg addressed Norwegian children directly to allay their potential fears. Negative examples from politics, on the other hand, use fear, exclusion and power as their main means.
Motivation through transformation
Studies show that women are more likely to lead through inspiration to convince people of their intentions. They want to change beliefs, not the behavior of others. Female leaders are usually better able to identify the true source of motivation for change. This is because it lies within the people themselves and cannot be generated from the outside.
Empathy is necessary for this insight. Because people crave it – as well as appreciation and affirmation. Current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, for example, advocates spending $2,000 a month to provide financial support to vulnerable citizens and to boost economies damaged by the pandemic. In doing so, she combines inclusion and empathy.
Most importantly, as a leader, whether female or male, you need to be authentic. This allows you to connect better with others than if they have the impression that you are hiding behind a facade.
For example, Jacinda Ardern hosted a question-and-answer session on Facebook where viewers and audience members could ask her questions. In the process, she sat at home in sweatpants and apologized for her casual attire with a reference to her children, whom she had to put to bed.
Leaders thus reveal that they are only human and have private lives like everyone else. Tennis player Serena Williams returned to the court after her pregnancy, immediately sparking a discussion about how the world governing body should actually handle pregnancy breaks for female players.
Female managers: role models can be found everywhere
You don’t have to be a politician or even lead a country to be inspired by well-known female leaders. Even women who are lesser known to the public show time and again that they can use their positive attributes to effect change.