James Brown may have sung about it being a man’s world, but he conveniently forgot how many female leaders have dominated different companies, countries and epoch in histories. From Queen Victoria to Nanny of the Maroons, we have clear evidence of strong women who were or are decision and lawmakers, stamping their name in history. Indeed, we have had Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, Portia Simpson-Miller and Angella Merkel as examples of what Shaggy referred to as the strength of a woman.
Now, strength is one thing, good leadership qualities and skills are another. Do women make good leaders or do their emotions get the better of them? In the past, a lot of negative stereotypes about women in charge permeated the annals of our minds. Women in positions of power are believed to be aggressive, ballbusting or seen as being cold and calculated. There were usually no good euphemisms or images mentally associated with females in charge, as we think immediately to that headstrong character in the Devil Wears Prada, and say yup, ‘that is how they generally tend to act’.
Fortunately, this is the furthest thing from the truth, and while the aforementioned women are political leaders and not CEO of companies, the facts also support that women have shattered the glass ceiling in the boardroom as well with their business acumen. Therefore, when it comes down to the budgeted bottom lines, they are no slouches in making headway that prove profitable for their respective businesses.
Studies conducted among fast-growing European companies show there is a higher proportion of women in senior management teams, and where more women hold board member positions, it has resulted in them outperforming their rivals with a 42 per cent higher return on sales, 53 per cent higher return on equity plus a 66 per cent higher return on invested capital. Generally, senior staff teams that include women or are led by women do better than those fuelled solely by testosterone.
These figures then beg the question: what qualities do women generally possess that make them good leaders?
Let us start with empathy. A boss who understands that an employee is going through a hard time with a sick child and responds accordingly generates loyalty, as that employee will not forget that the boss gave her the time to get her business in order instead of coldly telling her to seek other employment as she is missing too much time off from work.
Women also are good at seeing things through different lenses, which means that they have perspective of scenarios that a rival entity may not have. Added to this, they are perceptive enough to not let ego make them think they know everything, so they then surround themselves with bright minds from different walks of life who bring their own set of unique skills to the table, thus a winning formula is practically guaranteed. Other qualities to look out for are communication, vision and mental maturity.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of BUZZ or its employees.