It is a well-known and controversial topic that nationally, we are lacking women in leadership positions both in the public and in private sectors. The campaign to ban the word “Bossy” has received plenty of media attention as has the one encouraging women to lean in. It is important that there are continued efforts, activities, and programs that will inspire teenagers and young women not to be afraid to become leaders, and learn not to fear what being a leader may entail. However, how do we get there? My solution is leadership development. Let us quickly explore what this concept a bit more in depth.
Leadership development is intended to enhance the qualities of leadership within individuals or organizations. Some may believe that leadership development fails or neglects to come close to its actual intentions. However, according to Forbes, the primary reason leadership development fails is because leaders cannot be trained, rather they must be developed. This holds some semblance of truth because not every man or woman may be a natural born leader. However, since males and females have different strengths and weaknesses it would be ideal for leadership development to cater to the needs of not only each gender but also each individual. Superior leadership skills include understanding how to nurture an individual, which is also a vital component of developing others, in addition to building relationships, self-development, and displaying veracity. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review conveys that women score higher than men do categorically in the Top 16 Competencies Leaders Exemplify Most. The data from the same study also acknowledged that women are better at taking the initiative with an increased 56% versus the males’ 48%. Women also scored higher at collaboration and teamwork and in 15 of the 16 categorical competencies. Men scored higher in developing a strategic perspective with 51%, women 49%, respectively. So what does all this research really mean for the future? The conclusion is that it is important to develop and foster innovative, critical thinkers in order for leadership to continually evolve and grow, including women.
Cultivating Women’s Leadership
Talk to any woman and she will likely tell you that she feels that we are underrepresented in all levels of business and government. Women are in fact a rather a disparate portion of elected officials, peacekeepers, and business owners. We have a vast wealth of knowledge, information, and experiences to contribute to conflict resolution, running a business, running local/state/ federal government, or rebuilding a nation. In addition, more participation on behalf of women within the economy can also considerably increase the viability and progression of economic growth. However, are we better, capable leaders?
Women are More Valuable Leaders?
According to the three-part series in Business Insider, yes, women are more effective and therefore more valuable leaders. In fact, women received a score of 54.5% while men received a score of 51.8% for complete leadership effectiveness. Women’s effectiveness appeared to transform over time. It was noted that as both genders begin their careers there was very little perceived difference. However, for men it began to vary as they became more effective than women did.
As women mature, we are recognized in a progressively more positive manner and as more effectual than our male colleagues are. In fact, female effectiveness increases after the age of forty. It was noted that women maintain the habit of seeking feedback in order to take any necessary action for improvements while men assume that they do not need any feedback and therefore do not ask.
Women are more proficient at building teams and collaborating, forming relationships, supporting for change, displaying high levels of integrity, and motivating others. Lastly, as women move up in their careers and within organizations, they are perceived more positively. Women are better role models, more effective in accomplishing tasks, and producing results. Women should feel good about whom they are and what they have to offer. We should not shy away from leaderships positions, we should fill them and not allow the worry or anxiety of how we will be perceived dictate our careers.