The best leaders are positive, committed, responsible, decisive, and accountable. The new generation of women in leadership would add to this list. The traits they value are qualities all leaders should have but that women, especially, tend to embody: social intelligence, a strong sense of self, collaborative efforts, and leading others to achieve their own professional goals. If you are a woman who owns her own business or manages others in her industry, here are some of the qualities you may automatically bring into your leadership role.
The ability to understand, interact with, and cooperate with others is crucial for today’s leaders across every industry. Younger workers tend to need more feedback and guidance to reach their full potential. Any leader who can navigate the social aspect of managing a team is going to see greater productivity than the manager who sees people as separate from and secondary to the task at hand.
An example: You are a business owner assembling a team of talent when a staffing agency for creatives sends over their best and brightest for you to interview. You could put together a taskforce based on the job histories and CVs in front of you, but you decide instead to think of the team as a whole. Which of the interviewees will work together best while bringing the needed experience and skills to the table? You use your social intelligence to pick the people you believe will form a cohesive unit to get the job done faster while keeping morale at its peak.
A Strong Sense of Self
Leaders need a strong sense of who they are and where they are going in order to lead those who follow them in the right direction. Women who have made it into leadership positions have often done so by thoroughly understanding both their strengths and shortcomings; this means you will lead knowing how far you can push yourself, or when you need to ask for assistance, in order to reach your goals.
Say you are a marketing professional new to the San Francisco Bay Area and you have finally achieved one of your dreams working for a successful Silicon Valley firm. Women are still largely outnumbered by men in the tech industry, but you are not intimidated because you know all the valuable experience and finely-tuned skills you bring to the table. When you are put in charge of a team of other marketers, you know exactly how to shape and guide the team in a way that fits with your personal style as a leader.
When they are up against the limits of their skills or knowledge, women tend to be more willing to collaborate with others to succeed. In days gone by when the “lone wolf” mentality was essential for pushing ahead in one’s career, this tendency may have been viewed as a setback. In today’s professional world the ability to willingly and effectively collaborate with others is vital for productivity and personal success.
Let’s return to the scenario where you are a business owner assembling a team of tech creatives sent over from the staffing agency. You are stuck on which web designer to hire because this is an area a bit outside your own field of expertise. You consider that Hewlett wasn’t going to get very far without Packard there to conspire with in the HP Garage and decide to bring in a colleague from a web design company for consultation. She provides insight into the best choice for the new hire and offers other valuable advice on your project. You’ve not only made a new contact but have improved the quality of your own team and shown your new employees the importance of collaborative efforts.
Leading Others to Success
Women in leadership today, despite all the advantages hard-earned by our foremothers, still face unique difficulties not encountered by their male counterparts. These added challenges can provide women in leadership with a broader skillset when it comes to helping those they lead succeed. Since they’ve had to strategize and work around the obstacles between them and their own success, many women are equipped to help clear the way for the women and men working for them.
This may be why women over 40 are seen as more effective leaders than their male peers. Studies reveal that while women struggle for recognition in their earlier working years, women over 40 in leadership are considered more proactive, driven, and consistent by those who work for them. These professional female leaders are also considered more likely to inspire others and cultivate the skills of their employees. Leading others to succeed is not only professionally rewarding as it increases productivity and morale, it can also provide personal enrichment as you work to create your own professional legacy.
Photo credit for Gretchen Rubin @ Texas Conference for Women: Wikimedia Commons