How women leaders inspire sensational results
More females in a company means bigger profits
It’s no secret that in today’s corporate world, men still greatly outnumber women in leadership positions. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, women hold only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and only 5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.
Women are doing slightly better in the boardroom, representing about 1 in 6 board members, but even that number is dismal when you look at the fact that women represent a full half of today’s workforce.
For those of us in leadership positions, finding women to look up to is no easy task. There will always be men to learn from, to emulate and to mirror. But for women seeking to improve their leadership skills, finding a female mentor to help hone our abilities can be an essential part of our growth.
Why? Because a business looks different when a woman is at the helm. And a lot of times, different means better. According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, the top competencies shown by excellent leaders include those that:
- Take initiative
- High Integrity and Honesty
- Drives for Results
- Develop Others
- Inspire & Motivate others
- Build relationships
- Collaborative and team-oriented
- Establish Stretch Goals
- Champion Change
- Solve Problems and Analyze issues
- Communicate Powerfully and prolifically
- Technical/Professional Expertise
- Develop Strategic Perspective
In 12 out of these 16 competencies, women were rated more highly than men. Women excel at traditionally feminine leadership traits (like collaboration and teamwork). However, women also excel at traditionally masculine leadership traits.
Women scored higher in taking initiative (far more than men) and driving for results (markedly higher). Leadership traits may be considered masculine or feminine, but at the end of the day, women have more of them. This may come as a surprise to men and women, because like it or not, the stereotype that only men can lead is alive and well in business today. That stereotype needs to change, now.
Leadership is not just about being the boss. Leaders have vision, a sense of purpose and goals. Leaders work toward that vision and actively demonstrate it in day-to-day actions, and help bring that vision along with every member of a team.
Sure, a terrific leader can be any gender. A terrific leader has drive and pushes for results, but grows deliberately and sustainably. A terrific leader makes quick decisions and puts plans into action but considers other people. A terrific leader creates a nurturing environment with a team of people working together toward shared goals.
And, that terrific leader just might be female. In fact, studies show that women-led companies perform three times better than the S&P 500, and financial performance is higher for companies with more women in leadership positions.
Today, smart companies know that to grow in the best way possible, to build a culture of success, they must have a diverse leadership team. Major companies like IBM, Xerox, and Lockheed Martin all have women in leadership positions and are run by female CEOs. And businesses of all sizes based right here in Colorado, including Lockheed Martin, CH2M and the Colorado Technology Association have seen their business thrive by employing women in key leadership positions.
Any successful business is built on trust, consensus and teamwork. To make that happen, you must employ a diverse set of skills across all levels, including the leadership team. Have you taken a look at your executive team lately? Do they employ the set of skills needed to take your business to the next level? Don’t fall trap to the stereotype that only a man can inspire sensational results. Women are doing it every day. Do you have enough women on your team?
Susan Snipes is the founder and president of Q Digital Studio, a web design and development firm in Denver, Colorado. As a community-minded web entrepreneur, developer, and ExpressionEngine expert, Susan’s innovative approach to the web has benefited well-known companies and organizations ranging from technology, healthcare, education, nonprofits, local and regional governments, and more. For more thoughts on entrepreneurship, leadership, and inclusivity in technology, follow her on twitter.