The world of today and tomorrow requires leadership with soft power skills, the ability to influence, negotiate with and yes, charm others. Women are uniquely suited for this kind of leadership and can be the essence of strength, power, and grace. It is for this reason that they need to be seen as well suited for leadership and especially executive leadership. While gender is not the deciding factor for promotion, the qualities women have will make them a compelling option. The old male authoritarian model of leadership does not fit in today’s world and the concept of positional power is eroding and being replaced with a more collaborative model. Employees and even the general public are hungry for authenticity. The modern world is faced with complex wicked problems without black and white answers which obviates the skill of influencing others.
Interpersonal skills of grace and charm hold more importance in the senior levels of organization than in the technical functions but they exert power wherever they are found. There are certain embedded abilities in the practice of charm and grace. Skills that can be learned and practiced! So what makes women more suitable for leadership in today’s world?
Listening – Women are very often good listeners. Every human being wants to be heard. This fact was lost in the machine age but is being forcefully championed today.
Team building – Women favor collaboration which is the essence of good teamwork. Those wicked problems we are facing require more than one brain to solve. This focus on collaboration creates a good working environment where creative solutions can be explored.
Egos in check –
For women comfortable in their own skin, boardroom meetings are not war rooms or places of competition and combat where one has to win at all costs. Problem-solving becomes the norm!
Emotional intelligence –
Women favor the emotional intelligence and intuition necessary for good decision making in a complex world. Identifying even a slightest change in emotions and being able to relate to them increases value, helps with decision-making and is very critical when empowering employees. Civility rests on emotional intelligence and the ability to understand another’s point of view. The cornerstone of soft power is civility.
Handling challenges –
The odds have been against the women in the workplace. Women have had to work harder and longer for their achievement and with less pay. They understand and cope with challenging environments. Often they feel they have to do their work perfectly in order to get ahead and this creates a steadiness and thoughtfulness or caution around rash behavior.
For too long women in business have been considered too emotional, too erratic, too concerned with others to be good organizational leaders. This is slowly changing. However, those old views don’t understand the need for a different kind of executive leadership going forward. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan/Chase, said it well in an interview when he said that business needs to turn down its self-interest and consider the country and its people first. Who better to do that than women?