One certain thing to come from this year is the need to re-evaluate the perceived makeup of a great leader. Traditionally, we’ve both sought and praised those that exhibit traits like overconfidence, assertiveness, and are authoritative. We should ask ourselves two questions:
- Are these traits the kind we should expect from leaders, and does it build a mutually beneficial environment for organizations and workers?
- Does this foster trust, communication, innovation, and productivity?
Ultimately, a leader needs to guide, empathize, communicate, foster trust, and solve problems while fulfilling the goals of their organization. For example, in the handling of the pandemic, “The actions of female leaders in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Taiwan and New Zealand are cited as supporting evidence that women are managing the crisis better than their male counterparts.” If we continuously encourage characteristics that have negative consequences in a team environment, we will continue to have incompetent leaders. Poor management is likely to create anxiety and stress, burnout, and a toxic atmosphere. Never has the need to embrace more feminine leadership qualities been more prevalent than that in the wake of 2020.
Make Decisions Outside a Vacuum
Relational decision-making is imperative in creating collaboration and unity, as this gives as much credence to how their decisions and actions will affect others as it does to other evaluations of success.
“…individuals with strong female leadership traits — tend to be more relational in their decision-making… are not as concerned with justice, rule and hierarchy. Instead, they consider how their decisions will affect other people and how their decisions will manifest in the real world……”Forbes Article
Those that embrace this type of decision-making are keen on pulling vital insights from relevant people, such as all teams within an organization and its stakeholders. By capturing this information, and allowing the safe space to express it, provides these leaders with the ability to operate outside of a silo. To make decisions that impact people, it’s important not to only rely on data, but to listen and consider consequences and potential effects on individuals. By operating this way, it creates the space for people to come together and nurture collaboration.
“relational decision-makers talk to a lot of people…In other words, they don’t make decisions in a vacuum….”Forbes Article
Leading with authenticity brings success in surplus. Create a culture that is “authentic, empathetic, reinforced through gestures of friendship and embedded in the culture of a team.” This will construct a strong, connected team that works together towards common goals which will lead to happier employees, higher productivity, and innovation.
Empathy is More Impactful
“Empathy enables those who possess it to see the world through others’ eyes and understand their unique perspectives…”Harvard Business Review Article
Understanding other perspectives not only provides you with insight and compassion, but it allows you to be a more able problem-solver, build improved relationships, and develop stronger communication skills. This is much more impactful than the commandeering nature we typically hail as a great trait for leadership. Negative effects of an authoritarian or commandeering approach are far-reaching, from lack of perspectives to a high turn-over rate.
The concept of work shouldn’t be 9-5 enslavement with a side of burnout and anxiety, but instead a group of people working towards a common goal and thriving in a positive environment. Division makes it impossible to see true success, so by encouraging a workplace culture of open-communication, togetherness, and collaboration there will be more attractive results gained. Embrace empathy for a healthier, stronger, and more effective team.
“As you strive to be more empathetic, try not to interrogate people for information about themselves. Instead, focus on increasing your understanding and appreciation of what makes them unique.”Washington Post Article
Rely on + Have Faith in Your Team
“Before people used to think that a team’s success is dependent heavily on its leader.” But, it’s clear that success stems from the collective and not just the individual. Trust in your team is the connective element between where you are and your company’s end goals. Every project has multiple hands involved, such as business development, design, and sales. Meaning many people were responsible for its creation and delivery —without that involvement and refinement, it wouldn’t see the same success. Trust and rely on your team’s insight and expertise, innovativeness, and skill.
Generating trust comes from properly engaging your organization, transparent communication, and recognizing hard work. By first bolstering the culture to hold values that produce trust and positivity will help increase your team’s engagement, such as “substantially lower absenteeism, higher productivity and even increased profitability…” This will ultimately facilitate more trust and commitment from all in your company.
“Qualities deemed feminine in nature have proven to be valuable when working towards a common goal, handling change management, invoking innovation and collaboration.” The data is clear that qualities like empathy, humility, inclusiveness, and patience are vital to working through uncertain times, handling difficult changes, and creating unity to solve problems. We can see this clearly regarding the difference between feminine and male leadership in the context of the pandemic. The need to embrace feminine leadership qualities is prevalent, especially when it comes to creating an open, transparent, and inclusive environment.
Fellow leaders, what leadership qualities do you appreciate most?