Women leadership style can be a rich source of insight about inclusive leadership. Today hierarchical models of leadership are becoming redundant and the modern business environment makes the perfect setting for propelling more inclusive leadership styles. An inclusive and empathetic leadership style is a mandate for future leaders. Slowly making women leadership style more popular.
In words of Rajat Chawla, Founder at Koyopo, “There are many companies which are already on this journey of uniquely understanding and deploying their women leadership talent, tapping into their unique DNA. They are putting their money where their mouth is. These companies will reap rich dividends from their commitments as they tap into the DNA of their women leadership.”
So what is this DNA of Women Leadership which makes their style inclusive and empathetic?
As per a seminal study conducted by University of Pennsylvania (end of 2013) brains of men and women function differently. Simply described as ‘either/or and linear’ men’s brain is organized in a front to back manner, very different to women’s, which shows interconnectedness between the two halves of the brain hence making it ‘Networked and inclusive’. Considering the value that both the known (left side) facts and unknown (right side) probabilities bring to a business, this only lends more credibility to women leadership style.
It is known that men like risk, however, a recent study on boldness index** of men and women leadership shows that women tend to make bolder leaders. But this boldness is not over confidence but rather a cautious decision where women depend upon the feedback of trusted stakeholders. With a natural tendency towards problem solving and relationship building, women do manage conflicts more effectively.
Sound empirical research, based on attribution and social identity theory, has identified the psychological traits and behavioral differences that affect the way men and women act, perform and behave in the workplace. Understanding this, IBM has continuously applied these findings to data sets (consisting of some 25,000 diagnostic responses and observation records). A continued analysis indicates that women outperform their male counterparts on most of the high-performance behaviors – Business Thinking, People Development and Achieving success. Hence, clearly demonstrating that they have the inherent skill and capability to make it to the top slots.
But is everything rosy about Women Leadership?
Women Leadership versus Women Leadership Style
Further, InspireOne and IBM’s continued analysis indicates that women outperform their male counterparts on most of the high-performance behaviors except in inspiring people through clear direction and decisions. They are less conclusive in giving directions, building confidence and inspiring others. Hence, what we are then stating is not considering women leaders over men leaders, but rather picking the best from each leadership styles. In order to survive in today’s dynamic business environment, the potential leader needs to display the right mix of qualities which will be necessary to drive the business.
Today’s dynamic business environment propels a need for a leader with inclusive and empathetic leadership style hence, neuroscience findings are getting more and more incorporated by HR and talent management professionals to develop leadership within their organizations.
Why today’s environment needs inclusive and empathetic leadership style?
We will have to look at the business trends a bit. With digitization and multi-generation workforce there is a clear need for more inclusive leadership. Hollywood movie ‘The Intern’ probably best exemplifies this. With the co-existence of millennials and older generations in the workforce, more creative solutions and motivational skills are required. Innovation, creativity and flexible thinking are suited to map the modern, disruptive and agile business environment for sustainable businesses. All these three skills are driven by diversity of thought, values, skills, expertise and experience. And here women naturally fit in well for their life-long learning inclination which helps them to develop greater critical-thinking skills, but this does not mean men cannot display the same leadership style.
Today we are witnessing many corporate profiles that are created and tailored to encourage women in leadership to promote diversity and inclusion. This plethora of positions and programs are an indicator that inclusive and empathetic leadership is the key enabler for a successful future business world.
INSPIREONE and IBM Smarter Workforce
InspireOne and IBM smarter workforce – workshops concentrate on the strategies for success that drive ‘influence’, ‘build confidence in self & others’ and ‘presentation’ for future women leaders. IBM offers a range of programs around the subjects of inclusion, leadership, heightened awareness and different dimensions of diversity, all of which offer flexibility around the structure and content.