I recount two-woman bosses who I worked with, in my early career, get maximum credit for shaping me into what I am today. I confess, that I was pushed, beaten but taught how to gain self-confidence, brush off fear and take bold strides in life under women leaders. Today, hiring managers chase audacious targets to build diversity in the workforce. This remains an important agenda for business reviews in most of the evolved organizations. Unfortunately, we had to run “agenda” just to have 10% of women in jobs out of a total female population equivalent to half of the Indian population.
India still needs to catch-up with the world in engaging and trusting woman leaders to take the realm of business. Forbes (catalyst) data shows businesses run by women are more productive as they generate 42% more sales, get 53% improvement in ROI and 66% better return on capital. If diversity comes with so many positivises, what makes us hesitate to hire more female managers? The companies that have a focus on diversity, hold a better chance to score high in business. Lets’ diversity percentage in the workforce be a criterion before for pick your next assignment.
If you are fortunate to be working with a women leader, these traits as I narrated below might help you to leverage your career as it did for me.
1. They do not give up easily – it is seen most of the female leaders have a strong sense of fear of failure, they mostly do not accept defeat easily and pursue till the objective is met. This becomes more relevant when businesses face challenge with new ideas, markets or differentiated products. One needs to have plenty of patience to continue trials to establish the brand and win customer confidence. The lesson of perseverance and courage to reach the goal were taught to me by my superior female leaders. I remember in my first job with a hotel, in Kolkata, business was stalled from turning around due to stiff resistance from the union.
It was unlikely that a female leader will face the wrath of the union, I had reservations to have my boss negotiate with them. She stood her ground, and we could pacify union aggression in a few weeks to roll out a compete plan to facelift the hotel. I have learned to have pertinence & pursue my agenda without being discouraged, from her. This is an important trait of a leader. If you get an opportunity to learn it first-hand, please be prudent to adopt it.
2. They have more balanced approach – Most of the women’s transit to adulthood & family life takes different route than man. Hope most of you will agree on the quantum of responsibility any woman shoulders to run domestic affairs that hardly men can do. Above all, many women have excelled in career and earned higher compensation and status. Still, they stay grounded. I have not seen women lacking empathy and compassion. They balance the team fairly and always nurture them like a family.
This is one attribute which all leaders should have, irrespective of gender. It is important that the leader absorbs and decipher the heat amongst the team in a manner that minds do not get blown. The balanced approach integrates aggression, reactions, and empathy to go along with the team, where everyone is rewarded. This trait is mostly prevalent with women leaders and that makes them more successful in the business world.
Author Dr. Dana Beth Ardi in her book ‘The Fall of the Alphas’ most aptly explained that the current working scenario appreciates, a more collaborative leader than a dominating authoritarian. Since women are more of ‘beta managers’ and lead in a more cooperating manner, they are and will continue to be more appreciated than the male leaders.
3. Better team influencer – Our ties with woman leaders last longer and go strong. It is found that the intensity of influence by woman leaders are profound than their male counterparts. Their team acceptance is high, and people mostly view their decision as rational. If you have worked with a woman leader, you may resonate, exceptions will be there. Women leaders mostly are straightforward and speak from their heart that enables a team to immediately connect.
Irrespective of gender, being an influencer, is a true quality of leaders. If you ever get an opportunity to learn and adopt how to build and create influence, please utilize it, trust, that will put you in new high. I have experienced this in my life and still hold high regard for the woman leaders I have worked with.
Let us do a reality check. Women employment data of India is not at all encouraging in respect to other Asian countries, leaving aside western world. Only 3.80% of women are CEOs and MDs in listed companies. Woman account for just 19% of the total work force, this information is as fresh as July 2020. It is disheartening to find that we still hold reservations in trusting women to manage critical roles in organizations, where at home they reign. Driving diversity agenda encourage inclusion of women in the business, is not enough unless we progress in our MIND to have clarity on EQUALITY.
I was contemplating writing on this subject for some time, found a pertinent backdrop in international women's day to share my thoughts with all of you. I salute all my woman leaders, peers, and colleagues, who have proven their mettle in the job and never lost the stride to march with their male counterparts.
I will look forward for your views on this article to enrich this in future. This is a subject that should ring the bell often to make India someday a Diversity Capital.