I recently tweeted Michael Hyatt that I would love to hear him interview a woman in leadership on the unique challenges she faces as well as the strengths of women in leadership. Here’s his reply.
I am not disappointed. As a father of grown daughters and former CEO, I’m sure Guru Hyatt recognizes the difference women make at home and in the office. I’m also pretty confident a significant portion of his readers are women. So the topic has to come up soon.
The fact of the matter is, leadership looks much different in a skirt. It may not be politically correct to say so, but it’s true. Women both fill leadership positions and respond to other leaders in a different way than their male coworkers. After nearly a decade and a half of experience in both ministerial and business management, I’ve identified a few strengths particular to female leaders.
5 Reasons Women Make Great Leaders
1. Women are natural multitaskers.
Before even starting our careers, we already have years of experience juggling home management, child rearing, child development and education, personal counseling, health management, and various relationships. All while stirring the spaghetti sauce and dusting.
2. Women have more at risk in their position.
We have more “skin in the game” than our male counterparts just by stepping up to the plate. Even today, when we enjoy so much more opportunity than our mothers and grandmothers, we still recognize that saying “I am a leader” raises eyebrows. A woman doesn’t just try to be a leader; she risks her personal reputation and the rest of her career by taking the title.
This weight of leadership makes us take it oh, so seriously. Everything is at stake, so we play for keeps.
This is not a hobby.
3. Women view their team as their family.
Once we allow someone in our inner circle, that teammate becomes one of us. We pray for him daily, think about him constantly, keep his picture and phone number close by, and daydream how to enchant him more. He is a priority now.
We are more emotional than men, and we use that to our advantage in nurturing relationships on our teams, caring for one another, and genuinely seeking the well-being of our coworkers.
The loss of a team member for any reason — disenchantment, moving, new position, illness, death — is a personal loss. Even when the most hard-to-work-with team member leaves, there is a void and a sense of loss that is difficult to explain to the men around us.
We are family.
4. Women value clear communication.
Compared to our brothers, we talk a lot more. We know it. And we use it to our advantage in the workplace. We are the last one to leave the negotiating table, the first ones to share the inside scoop, and the most insistent to talk out misunderstandings. We use communication at work not just to get things done and solidify the bottom line. We talk, email, call, and tweet to make connections, network, understand, and really know our coworkers, colleagues, and associates.
It is this interpersonal knowledge through communication skills which gives us an advantage in employee retention, personnel coaching, and employee satisfaction.
Yes, talking is our super power.
5. Women lead from their heart.
That emotional connection to our work gives us a passionate edge in the workplace. Now, I’m not saying the men we work with are not passionate — they are, especially if they are pursuing a career they particularly value or they are a business owner (or pastor!). But even on our worst days, a woman will never not care about the details of her work, the way her workplace is set up, the goals of her project, or public perception of her brand. It’s all about her relationship with the work all the time, and there is no turning that off.
That makes men wonder if a woman’s judgement is clouded by emotionalism at times. While both men and women have their weaknesses, this emotional attachment is not in itself a downfall. We love our work — deeply, fiercely, and protectively. This alone caries us women leaders through the darkest valleys and deepest disappointments of our careers.
Just like we are learning so much from them, we would like to share these leadership advantages with the men we work with. By learning from and complementing each other in the work place, men and women can form a cohesive — unstoppable! — team.
Today, women leaders do face obstacles. I hope to discuss a few of them next week. But overall, I am proud of the women leaders I know. By using these strengths to our advantage, we can each impact our communities, our businesses, and our world.