Both men and women have their work cut out for them when seeking to climb the corporate ladder but in recent years, there has been a growing body of evidence that indicates some skills simply come more naturally to one gender or the other.
Perhaps it’s a matter of combatting gender stereotypes or perhaps there is something inherent in our genetic makeup, but the fact remains that some skills seem to come easier to men whilst others come easier to women.
Having said that, today’s employer would do well to seek future leaders based on the potential to develop strong skills when given the appropriate leadership training.
There is no reason why women can’t exhibit the same capable levels of leadership as men. If you are a woman looking to advance in your profession, it may be just a matter of learning to develop your leadership skills.
These 7 key leadership skills which come more naturally to women would be the place to start.
1- A Passion to Excel
Having a passion to excel is something which seems to come naturally for most professional women.
Perhaps it’s because they know they are still competing in a ‘man’s world’ or perhaps it is because women are not afraid to express their emotions. Passion is one emotion which is necessary for a strong leader because it is this passion that inspires others to follow in your footsteps to do great things.
Often passion is what separates a manager from a leader. A manager sees to it that their employees follow the rules and a leader carries with them those who are willing to brave the unknown to make things happen. A leader never needs to lead with an iron fist because they set an example which others willingly follow.
2- Ready to Face a Challenge
Look how long and hard women have fought an uphill battle to get the recognition they deserve.
If there was a gender ready and willing to face a challenge, you could classify this as one leadership trait that comes quite naturally to women. Tell a woman she can’t do something and watch how quickly she succeeds at doing just the opposite!
Historically, men have been seen as the masters of meeting a challenge, but what has been left out of the history books are the challenges women faced whilst men were away at war or out-earning their way in the world.
Women have had to learn to improvise to keep the family going during those times and no challenge could keep her from seeing to the health and welfare of her children. When leading a team, this is a vital trait to have!
3- Driven by Opportunity
Perhaps it is the traditional ‘man’s world’ mindset that has enabled women to seek opportunities for advancement. Women have become quite creative in finding cracks in the system that enable them to rise above their current situations. When an opportunity presents itself, women fearlessly forge ahead where some men seem to lose their competitive edge by weighing the various outcomes.
Opportunities are fleeting and unless you are willing to seize the moment, someone else may take that spot you are still scrutinizing. Leaders see an opportunity and forge ahead with their teams. In sales, this is one skill that can set you far ahead of the pack.
4- Gifted Strategists with an Ability to See the “Whole Picture”
Since women have traditionally been the caregivers in the home, there is something in the female nature that enables them to quickly strategize a game plan because she has a need to see the whole picture. Women are experts at quickly moving from plan A to plan B and beyond.
They see what needs to be done based on the common good and are able to quickly formulate a strategy to make something happen. Perhaps it’s something about having the need to multitask, but for whatever reason, women who are able to strategize on the run make excellent leaders.
5- The Embodiment of an Entrepreneurial Spirit
Books could be written about what an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ embodies, but for simplicity’s sake, this is somewhat closely related to having the ability to seize opportunities as they arise.
An entrepreneur forges new ground and is able to do so because they see opportunities where others see problems. Also, women seem to have this innate ability to focus in on an objective in order to get the job done in record time while doing a hundred other things in the background.
Isn’t this the traditional role of a mother?
Entrepreneurs can be seen as those individuals with a ‘can do’ mindset who are able to happily forge ahead with a glass half full. Great leaders have this sense of optimism that is a huge part of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and it is a skill that seems to come naturally to women.
Imagine how this skill can literally explode when well-honed through leadership training?
6- Purpose Driven
This is one characteristic which many women leaders exhibit.
While all leaders tend to have high expectations of those in their charge, women seem to have the ability to pay careful attention to detail. It is difficult to expect special treatment or cut corners with women leaders because of the high standards they set for themselves and others they work with.
By their very nature, women also have great listening skills.
When working towards a goal, this can be a vital leadership quality. Instead of stepping in to dictate how things should be done, a woman is able to quickly assess why her team is having issues and then guide them in solutions. Some experts say that women excel in setting the stage for collaborative leadership. Women are able to draw out the best in their teams and in so doing, everyone is working up to their potential.
7- Excellent Communicators
In order to be an effective leader, it is vital to be an excellent communicator.
Women seem to have this innate ability to listen to others so that what they say in return makes absolute sense. Being an effective leader entails communicating goals in such a way as to spread enthusiasm for the job at hand. Not all leaders have this trait and often this sets a mediocre leader apart from a strong leader.
The whole difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader will carry others along with them towards a goal while a manager does exactly that – manage.
Leaders communicate enthusiasm for tasks at hand whilst managers ensure the rules are followed. In other words, managers are task masters while leaders are inspirational.
What It Takes to Be a Strong Woman Leader
When all is said and done, few women are able to capitalize on these leadership traits inherent in their makeup.
It may take a range of leadership courses to bring about what’s there naturally, but there is no reason why women should be kept in the background any longer.
Whether you are a woman seeking a leadership position or a company director seeking talented professionals to forge into new leaders, these are traits which most women come by naturally.
Capitalize on that which can be molded and shaped into a leader who inspires. That is, after all, the most important facet of a strong leader.