We all witnessed how Women in workplaces in the year of Pandemic were dramatically impacted. According to a study by McKinsey & company on Women in the Workplace*, two million women had thought of either taking a leave of absence or leaving the workforce altogether. First time in the last five years, signs of women leaving the workforce were higher than men.
Women Leaders faced some of the biggest challenges like having anxiety over layoffs, burnouts, mental health, childcare, homeschooling responsibilities, physical and mental health of their families & loved ones and most importantly financial insecurity.
Companies are at risk of losing women in leadership. Senior-level women leaders have been facing increased pressure both at work and at home. Women in independent roles felt more pressure to work and to experience microaggressions, including needing to provide additional evidence of their competence. Women leaders were found 1.5 times more likely than senior-level men to have thought about downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce because of Covid-19. Almost 3 in 4 cite burnout as a main reason.
Now the good news.
We have already started witnessing the change with Women Leadership around World. Kamala Harris just became the first woman Vice President. For the first time in history, all S&P 500 firms have at least one female board member. The number of women CEOs in the S&P 500 hit an all-time high at the end of 2020. Number of female-led countries like New Zealand, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Taiwan have fared better in handling the Pandemic crisis.
A meta-analysis on the topic of leadership stereotypes now includes more “feminine relational qualities, such as sensitivity, warmth, and understanding.”
In another study**, employees were found rating female leaders more positively as they reportedly had greater levels of engagement. That also indicated that people felt the need for relational leadership over command-and-control leadership, whether it was in work environment or world at large. Almost all highly important skills needed were found to be relational: “inspires and motivates,” “communicates powerfully,” “collaboration/teamwork” and “relationship building.” Female leaders outperformed their male counterparts on all of them.
Here are top five leadership traits that women leaders of today possess:
- Compassion – Women are naturally empathetic and value relationships which enables them to have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people. They also know how to acknowledge different people for their performance.
- Humility – Women are found to be decisive during the times of crisis rather than typical “all-knowing” and “invulnerable”.
- Inclusiveness – It is often found that women leaders would set aside their egos and act not only for their own people but also for the community at large. People look at their leaders for inspiration and reassurance. Women leaders are found to be working in teams or in groups.
- Multitasker – Women have the ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership.
- Effective Communication – Women leaders have the ability to win more trust in some crisis situations due to their interpersonal skills which they draw from clear communication.
So, what Tom Peters prognosticated in 1970s on “Women on Top” is finally going to come true. Cheers.
Lila Andrea Chaudhuri is a Personality assessor and an Executive Coach. Over the last two decades she has been working with large number of Indian and large MNC organizations both in India and abroad in the space of personality assessments & career development. She enjoys working with first time managers, millennials and mid-level leaders / executives. With the help of psychometric diagnostics and Coaching process she has worked closely on building necessary behavior patterns that contributes for their growth & career aspirations.