The topic for this month’s blog is of interest to me because of my transition from teaching, a female-dominated profession, to my current position as an engineer for the Navy and as the founder of a small business. Since starting with the Navy in January 2018, I find myself looking to women in leadership positions for queues on how to lead and interact with a predominantly male workforce. Although I worked in similar environments in the Army and as a production supervisor in a factory, that was fifteen years ago. I have also been fortunate enough to meet many successful women as a real estate investor.
Leadership in business has been evolving in the last few decades. women take on more leadership positions every year. Women now hold about half of the professional and management positions in the United States. However, only about 4 percent of executives in Fortune 500 companies are women. Only 3 percent of Fortune 500 company CEO’s are women.
While it may take time to see equal numbers of men and women in leadership roles, it is important to recognize that men and women have different leadership styles. Studies show that women tend to prefer the transformational leadership style. A transformational leader aims to enhance the morale, motivation, and job performance of the employees. This type of leader works directly with employees to identify needed change, create a shared vision, and guide them through inspiration. Women make great transformational leaders because, in general, they are raised to be nurturers and to take care of others. As such, female leaders are more attentive to the employees and constantly motivate them to find self-worth through their work.
On the other hand, men are generally known to prefer transactional leadership. Transactional leaders are less involved in their employees’ activities and engage less on a personal level. They prefer receiving progress updates and delegating to the employees. Transactional leaders often remain detached and step in only to solve the problems that escalate.
In some settings, both men and women are equally effective as leaders. There are also settings in which each gender clearly outperforms the other as a result of a gender dominated setting. Women succeed in leadership positions that require constant engagement with employees and require them to take on more of a mentoring role. Men are better leaders in roles that require more control and command. Below are some of the strengths women leaders bring to the workplace:
Women have a more participatory, cooperative style of leadership. The cooperative style involves more listening and conversation between the leaders and employees. Women are naturally inclined to verbally communicate whenever any issue arises. This may take more time, but it makes employees feel more valued. It also makes employees feel more comfortable being transparent with their leaders, easing concerns about asking for help or advice when in need.
Women are great at reading non-verbal cues of their teammates. Due to spending more time with their employees and being observant, they are able to recognize employees’ strengths and weaknesses faster. As such, tasks are assigned based on the employees’ strengths and weaknesses, not merely on workload.
Typically, female leaders reward good performance more frequently than male leaders. Women also take on a nurturing role, helping employees increase their morale and self-esteem. This approach is more likely to spark creativity, while promoting personal and professional development for the employees.
In general, women prefer to be more democratic leaders. They prefer to involve employees in decision making, enabling employees to believe that their opinions matter. Women have strong relational and interpersonal skills, which make them more empathetic and approachable to their staff.
It is clear that women have tremendous opportunities to become successful leaders in companies of all sizes. Being aware of our natural strengths and of differences in leadership styles of men and women can only help us lead more effectively.
Written by DorrianGrey, iWriter