Got a complex business? Leave it to women leaders

Women excel in taking initiative and acting with resilience.

Photo credit: Photo | Shutterstock

In today's global professional landscape, the shadows of misogyny still linger stubbornly, casting doubt over the contributions of capable women leaders. Despite their proven effectiveness, as highlighted consistently by recent research, executive women continually combat perceptions that erroneously question their leadership capabilities.

Skepticism does not just undermine individual careers, but rather it also stifles the potential for organisational advancement by neglecting a significant segment of the leadership talent pool. So, misogyny also harms organisational performance.

Since male writers and researchers, like this author, should not presume to understand the female experience leading businesses, let us look at some interesting research findings.

Researchers and organisational behaviour consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman conducted a comprehensive study on thousands of 360-degree performance review assessments. They investigated many factors impacting professional success in firms. One of the results involved comparing the perceived effectiveness of men and women in leadership roles.

Colleagues, subordinates, and superiors contributed their perspectives, providing a robust dataset that illuminated the often-overlooked strengths of women in leadership. This method not only affirmed the capabilities of women leaders but also provided a clear contrast to traditional biases that often inaccurately favour male leaders without just cause.

The findings were both illuminating and encouraging in that women outperformed men in a myriad of competencies essential for effective leadership. Notably, women were perceived to excel in taking initiative and acting with resilience, driving for results while upholding high standards of integrity and honesty.

The results challenge the outdated biases that still permeate many professional environments, suggesting that women are not only capable of leading but are often preferable choices for leadership roles not only by subordinates but by all ranks within organisations.

The implications of this research extend beyond individual assessments, suggesting that teams led by women could benefit from enhanced dynamics and improved performance. Women's superior skills in building relationships and inspiring team members can lead to more cohesive and productive work environments. Recognising and leveraging these strengths is crucial in today's complex and interconnected business landscape.

Organisations stand at a critical juncture where they must decisively act to dismantle the barriers that prevent women from ascending to top leadership roles. It remains essential to implement strategic measures such as addressing unconscious biases through targeted training, offering mentorship programmes, and establishing clear, fair criteria for promotions.

Additionally, supporting work-life balance initiatives can play a pivotal role in retaining and nurturing diverse gender talent.

On an individual level, the insights from the study serve as a valuable tool for professional development. Women in leadership positions, or those aspiring to such roles, can harness these findings to bolster their self-efficacy and assert their rightful place in leadership discussions.

Meanwhile, male colleagues should actively support inclusive practices and recognise the unique strengths their female counterparts bring to the table.

In summary, the persistent underrepresentation of women in top leadership roles not only poses a moral dilemma but also a substantial loss of potential for organisations worldwide. By fostering an environment that truly values and utilises the strengths of all leaders, regardless of gender, we can enhance not only the effectiveness of individual teams but also the global business landscape.

Have a management or leadership issue, question, or challenge? Reach out to Dr. Scott through @ScottProfessor on Twitter or on email [email protected] .

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.