by Jennifer Deamud
Strategic thinking, inclusiveness, empathy and being outcome-oriented are qualities we as women innately have in the workplace that give us an advantage when leading teams and organizations. These qualities are assets to our leadership style.
Women are strategists!
Strategic thinking is at the core of women leadership and women have the ability to identify many components in a situation; we think beyond today’s decision and determine how it will affect a program or organization in the long-term. When I need to make a decision, it’s typically clear how the outcome of it will impact tomorrow or next week. As a leader, I have the role not just to assess the current day or year, but to factor in other components as I anticipate two, three or even five years into the future, depending on the final decision. The best short-term and long-term decisions are based on multiple factors, including factoring in how the decision of today will or will not align with the organization’s future strategic priorities. Whether out of necessity or desire, women leaders develop a natural instinct to think strategically like this.
Inclusiveness in the workplace
Inclusiveness expands beyond gathering family members for holiday parties, and women have a natural approach to be inclusive among loved ones and in the workplace. Inclusiveness in a professional setting means women leaders innovatively include others in meetings, looking beyond their personal core competencies when developing teams or collecting input and ideas. Women have the desire to be inclusive by embracing all individuals on the team and making them feel relevant to the success of the organization or business.
Women are also inclusive in their approach to collecting and analyzing information; they look beyond the resources immediately in front of them to capture information used to base a decision on. Being inclusive in gathering information is a paramount trait of women leaders because their decisions are more grounded in the reality of the current situation or opportunity.
Empathy as an asset
A person with empathy has the ability to place themselves in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. There is a stereotype that women are better than men at understanding other people’s perspectives and feeling compassion for them. Empathy and compassion are innate qualities of women. It is an intuitive ability for women to care about others and show their understanding as a leader. Individuals on a team or within an organization must feel that their leader cares about them. If the relationship between a leader and follower is transactional (meaning the follower is on a team to perform a task and then go onto the next), the follower will not be fulfilled. The follower will likely go to another team or organization with a leader that can show empathy and have a relationship with them that extends beyond the transactional.
Both men and women appreciate accomplishments and outcomes, but women tend to recognize the importance of quantitative and qualitative results. This dynamic is in part due to their leadership qualities of being inclusive, empathetic and compassionate as well as their strategic approach to decision making. We realize that not all outcomes and results need to be quantitative. When we focus on strategy, we recognize that the qualitative results are leading measures to qualitative outcomes.
As women, we have innate qualities that enhance our ability to lead and, as leaders, we should recognize and embrace these assets.
We often hear a lot about women “owning their brand” and, just as you own your personal brand, you should also own your leadership assets. Recognize them so you can cultivate and share them with those you lead. By doing this, you will enhance your leadership skills and gain followers which will allow your team and organization to acquire the desired outcomes.
You have the ability to change lives, communities, and the world as long as you recognize your personal leadership assets, and foster them to grow.