If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader. Dolly Parton
Leadership in the Innovation Age espouses that global leadership practices are stuck in a stubborn pattern of ineffectiveness (see image below) with the root causes being ‘command and control’ organizational structures and a predominance of male leaders.
Well look out, boys, ‘cause things are about to drastically change! Ketchum’s 2014 leadership and communication survey correlates effective leadership with effective communication and further states the future of leadership communication is more “feminine.” They are not suggesting all leaders should be female, however, over a considerable range of “leadership characteristics, women scored highest on the traits that people value most.”
In the words of Caroline Dowd-Higgins, “female leaders offer transparency, collaboration, genuine dialogue, clear values and the alignment of words and deeds, which are cherished by employees and stakeholders.” I think it is fair to say the verdict is out — not only do women score higher on Emotional Intelligence (EI), they are now scoring higher on leadership and communication.
By the way, none of the skills associated with EI, leadership or communication are exclusive to females. Unfortunately, this data illustrates another example where global culture has created this gender difference. Fortunately, it also signals the persistence of the human experience towards balance. Feminine leadership is emerging as the preferred and most effective style whether in business, politics or personal affairs.
Key Competencies of “feminine” leadership (what we all need to learn)
Coachable. Women love to learn. They are the first to sign up for personal development programs and are life-long learners. They are not afraid to ask for help and seek the assistance of coaches and mentors. I encourage every woman who comes to me for leadership coaching to negotiate the cost with her employer as part of her professional development program.
Communicators. In Ketchum’s formula for effective leadership (credible leadership = open communication + decisive action + personal presence), women communicate authentically and engage others through eye contact and use of their names. Such respectful behaviour, including the ability to actively listen, builds trust and community cultivating the necessary atmosphere for innovation.
Empathetic. Empathy is a key competency of EI and correlates positively to employee performance. When employees feel understood and listened to, they readily buy into leadership initiatives and are likely to initiate innovation on their own. For a free EI test online, click here.
Visionaries. Inspiring colleagues and customers by focusing on values and ideas they are passionate about, defines the visionary feminine leader (disruptive innovator). No longer will employees rally to the call of profit alone. Meaningful work and contribution are important to a visionary leader. Visionary leaders attract talented employees because they give what they themselves want.
Team Builders. Enthusiasm, energy and innovation are unleashed in an atmosphere of diverse talents, ideas and skills. Women are collaborators promoting inclusive, team building, problem solving and decision-making. For innovation to emerge, creativity must be encouraged and validated, which means giving everyone a voice. Tapping into the gifts and talents of every member of a team is what evolves a high-performing team and global culture of connection.
Persuasive. Intuition, another ‘soft’ skill primarily attributed to women, allows leaders to read situations early and accurately as well as gather information from sources other than data (past experience). During times of chaos, confusion and uncertainty, past performance does not predict or correlate with successful problem solving. Hence, the ability to intuit the unknown becomes a very influential and persuasive capability. Add to that all the assertiveness training for young women during the 60s and 70s and you rightly find assertive, accountable women leading the charge.
To my female friends, family and clients, I say your time has arrived. To my male friends, family and clients, brush up on your feminine energy and skills, you will be needing them.