August 16, 2022

Female leadership in the workplace of 2022 and beyond

The pandemic has also impacted leadership. Female leaders are on the rise. Fortunately, because we can all benefit immensely from a new approach to (top) management.

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Let's get this straight right away: Of course there are men who are less decisive and at the same time more sensitive than others, and there are women for whom it is undoubtedly the opposite. Most people carry both characteristics that are classified as more masculine and parts that are rated as more feminine. This is also the main criticism of the female leadership concept. What I would like to ensure is that I must and will make sweeping generalisations on this topic. But a look at the data makes it clear that in many cases there are indeed differences between women and men and their developed skills. And that is a good thing because we need all these skills.

These "female leadership qualities" are currently being adopted more than ever by male leaders. The American entrepreneur and author Gary V. (Gary Vaynerchuk), for example, who is more associated with the "hustle culture", has been talking about things like empathy, patience or kindness for years. 

In a GDP-driven world, these factors mostly don’t have an immediate impact – but play out significantly in the long run. Concepts like New Work, Change Management, Employee Experience or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are related here.

What is female Leadership?

There is no one answer to this question as female leadership can take on many forms, but in general, female leadership is the act of women leading organizations, businesses, or groups. It can also refer to women who are in positions of power and influence within their fields. Female leaders often face unique challenges and obstacles that their male counterparts do not, but they also have the opportunity to make a significant impact in their respective industries.

There are many ways to define female leadership, but one common thread is that it is about empowering women and helping them to reach their full potential. Female leaders often work to promote gender equality and increase opportunities for women in the workforce. They may also mentor other women and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed.

Female leaders come from all walks of life and have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. However, there are some characteristics that are often associated with successful female leaders. These include:

  • A passion for mentoring and supporting other women
  • A dedication to gender equality
  • A strong work ethic
  • The ability to inspire others
  • A commitment to excellence

Female leaders often have to overcome many challenges to succeed. They may face discrimination and bias, both from within their own organizations and from the outside world. However, they also have the opportunity to make a real difference in their industries and to empower other women.

What are the prejudices about female leadership?

One of the most common prejudices is that women are incapable of leading effectively. Some people believe that women are too emotional or too nurturing to be able to make tough decisions and manage a team. Others think that women are not as knowledgeable or experienced as men in the business world, and therefore are not qualified to lead a company or organization.

(Fig. 1: Women have heard it all – aauw.org)

However, these prejudices are simply based on generalisations and outdated ideas about gender roles. Women are just as strong leaders as men. Turns out, in a Zenger Folk man Study presented by Harvard Business Review that women actually score higher than men in most leadership skills. There are many successful female leaders in businesses and organizations all over the world. Women have different strengths and abilities than men, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective leaders. Quite the contrary.

(Fig. 2: Key Leadership Capabilities between the sexes – Zenger Folkman via HBR)

Therefore, if you’re a woman who wants to become a leader, don’t let any prejudices hold you back. You can be a successful leader, if you possess or train the required skills. On top of that, use your unique perspective and skills to create a more diverse and effective team. So don’t be afraid to step up and take on a leadership role—you just might surprise yourself (and everyone else).

What are the benefits of Female Leadership?

As we pointed out in the intro, both sexes can bear “traditional” leadership skills within themselves. But due to the different structure of the brain, there are differences in how sexes think, communicate or make decisions.

Let’s have a look at the (many) benefits of female leadership. Some of these benefits include:

1. Female leaders tend to be more compassionate and understanding than their male counterparts. This allows them to better relate to and empathize with the people they are leading.

2. Female leaders are often more effective communicators than male leaders. This allows them to better connect with and motivate their employees or team members.

3. Women in leadership positions tend to be more collaborative than male leaders. This means that they are more likely to work together with others to achieve common goals, rather than trying to achieve their goals alone.

4. Female leaders tend to be more detail-oriented than male leaders. This allows them to create well-organized and efficient work environments that are conducive to productivity.

5. Female leaders tend to be more supportive than male leaders. This means that they are more likely to provide emotional and practical support to their employees or team members.

Clearly, these benefits can help businesses or organizations to be more successful and productive. Female leaders can also provide a much-needed perspective and set of skills to male-dominated industries or workplaces to broaden and add possible solutions.

What are the challenges of female leadership nowadays?

(Fig. 3: What keeps women out of leadership positions in IT - Statista via Bitkom)

These are some key challenges in the workplace of today:

1. One of the most cited challenge of female leaders is balancing work and family responsibilities and creating a work/life balance (see also Fig 3, What keeps women from leadership positions in IT)

2. Female leaders often face more scrutiny than their male counterparts, and are more likely to be judged on their personal lives as well as their professional ones.

3. Women in leadership positions are often assumed to represent all women, and they can be held responsible for the success or failure of other women in their field.

4. There is still a lack of female role models in leadership positions, which can make it difficult for young women to aspire to leadership roles.

5. The glass ceiling is still a reality for many women in the workforce, and this can limit their career advancement and earnings potential.

6. Women leaders often have to contend with gender stereotypes, bias or sexist attitudes and behaviors from those around them, which can make their jobs even more challenging.

What is the current situation about female leadership?

In 2021, the proportion of women in senior management positions all over the world hit a new record high of 31%. 90% of businesses will have at least one woman in a senior management position in that year. And in comparison to 2019, where only 15% of all CEOs and managing directors were women, this number rose to 26% globally. This is a positive development, but there is still room for improvement in many respects.

COVID-19 was also a driving force behind this development because it accelerated attitudes towards the importance of diversity and the need for more empathetic leadership.

(Fig. 4: The proportion of women in senior leadership, 2021 – Catalyst.org)

(Fig. 5: The Representation of Women in Management in Selected Asia-Pacific Countries, 2021 – Catalyst.org)

(Fig. 6: Percentage of Women Managers in Selected European Countries, 2021 – Catalyst.org)

Despite the challenges, these numbers are hopeful signs of progress. The number of women-led businesses is on the rise, and a growing number of companies are taking steps to address the gender imbalance in their senior management teams.

Why do we need women in leadership positions?

The world is changing. And with change comes both challenges and opportunities. To tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future, we need the best leaders we can get – which means we need to maximize our human potential in leadership positions.

We need women in leadership positions because their unique perspectives and qualities can bring a wealth of knowledge and insight to the table. Again, women often have a different approach to problem-solving, decision-making, and networking, which can benefit organizations in a number of ways. Studies have shown that when women hold positions of power, it results in more opportunities for other women in the workplace, and can help to create a more positive work environment overall.

There are many reasons why it is important to have female leaders in all aspects of society. Here are just a few:

1. Women offer a unique perspective.

Women often have a different perspective than men when it comes to solving problems and making decisions. This is because they tend to take a more collaborative approach, while men are more likely to be individualistic in their thinking. Additionally, women are often more attuned to emotions and relationships, which can help to create a more balanced workplace.

2. Women bring different skills to the table.

Women tend to be better at multitasking, communication, and networking than men. They also tend to be more detail-oriented and have a better sense of emotional intelligence. These skills can be beneficial in a number of different workplace settings.

3. Women create opportunities for other women.

When women are in leadership positions, they often create opportunities for other women to advance in their careers. They may do this by mentoring other women, sponsoring their career development, or advocating for them in leadership roles. Additionally, studies have shown that when women are in top positions, they are more likely to promote gender diversity in the workplace overall.

4. Women (can) create a more positive work environment.

When women are in leadership positions, they tend to create a more positive work environment. This is because they are more likely to emphasize teamwork, collaboration, and communication. They are also less likely to tolerate hostile or discriminatory behavior in the workplace.

5. Women are good role models.

Having female leaders can be beneficial for young women who are just starting out in their careers. Seeing women in positions of power can help to inspire them to reach for their own goals and ambitions. Therefore, female leaders can serve as good role models for young girls, helping them to see that they too can be successful in any field they choose. Women are the future – literally.

How companies can contribute to female leadership for the future

1. Share opportunities for female leadership development with employees.

This means that you should give your employees a chance to develop their skills to become better leaders. How? By providing opportunities for them to attend workshops, conferences, and other events related to leadership development. You can also ask female leaders in your company to share their experiences and advice with your employees.

2. Encourage and support sponsorship and mentorship programs for female leaders.

We should encourage and support programs that help female leaders become better. This can mean giving them help to learn new things to be more successful in their work. This is done by sponsoring or mentoring them. Sponsorship can provide financial support, while mentoring can offer guidance and advice. Both of these things can make a big difference in a woman's ability to lead effectively.

Programs that help female leaders become better are important because they increase the number of successful women in leadership positions. This helps to break down stereotypes and barriers that women face when trying to enter leadership roles. It also provides role models for other women who are considering a leadership career. When more women are successful as leaders, it becomes easier for all women to achieve success in this area.

3. Foster a company culture that celebrates and rewards female leadership.

At your company, make sure to have a culture that celebrates and rewards female leadership. This will as well help more women rise to positions of power and help create a more equal workplace. To accomplish this, you can make sure that your company values and emphasizes things like teamwork, communication, and collaboration. You can also create mentorship and networking programs specifically for women. And, of course, make sure to give women the same opportunities for advancement as men. By doing all of these things, you'll foster a company culture that truly supports and values female leadership.

4. Promote continued education and advancement opportunities for female leaders.

We need to keep promoting education and advancement opportunities for female leaders. This will help them keep getting better and better jobs. 

We can do this by continuing to invest in programs that support female leaders, and by making sure that our workplaces are inclusive and supportive environments for all women. We should also be encouraging more young women to pursue leadership roles, and supporting them as they develop their skills. Because women rate themselves less confident until their mid-40s.

(Fig. 7: Key Leadership Capabilities between the sexes, Zenger Folkman via HBR)

Conclusion

Female leadership is an important part of our society and we need to continue to support and promote female leaders. Because we need more women leaders in all areas of our lives, not just in the workplace. There is no shortage of women who are willing to stand up for what they believe in and who are willing to work for their goals. Companies and society can do their part - whether with promotion or with education. Even in 2022, certain prejudices vehemently persist, especially in top management. With more female leaders, we can literally create a better world for all, because change is led by those who can and do think differently.

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