Inge Lawrence from Bizmod says that irrespective of the steps that women around the globe have taken to eradicate the glass ceiling, many women still feel the need to prove themselves in the corporate environment.
“As we enter into Women’s Month, it seems pertinent to focus on the traits that women bring to the C-Suite. As a starting point, it falls on many women to lead the charge in creating a balance between work and personal lives. Often the management of the home and children is led by the female partner in the relationship while still managing a high level career and achieving professional goals.”
Lawrence says that the coordination of the two personas is a tough job for most women – balancing the roles of mother, wife, career with a boss, colleague and mentor.
The second key trait that Lawrence highlights is that of compassion. “It’s widely agreed that women possess higher levels of compassion in comparison to male counterparts. While this might be regarded as a sweeping generalisation, for the purpose of this article, it’s a trait that women often feel they need to hide in the corporate environment. Compassion is critical in dealing with people in the office and is a key tool when managing people.”
Lawrence outlines six additional traits that she believes are key attributes of female leaders:
Inclusivity has numerous aspects to it; it can be focused on relationship building or it can focus on making people feel safe and comfortable. The concept speaks right to the heart of company culture and assists in making a business environment feel right and not just look right. It can be instrumental in holding an organisation together and giving its employees a sense of belonging.
Being a multi-tasker means being able to take on a portfolio of responsibilities which have been assigned to you and still being able to play multiple roles. It’s an often under-valued attribute.
Strategic leaders possess several skills, they are able to detect threats and opportunities and in detecting these they challenge their own assumptions by trying to find solutions. In return they are able to interpret the information gathered to identify patterns in the future. It’s a critical skill that enables them to make decisions that they then align to business objectives.
Assertiveness is a recipe for success in a business. Those who possess this trait are known for their courage and confidence. Communicating effectively comes naturally to them, which ultimately gains them respect. Assertive leaders are perceived as honest and usually make decisions based on good judgment. In some cases assertive women are seen as ‘bullies’ or being overly negative – which is not the case.
Creativity is the ability to generate ideas and to learn and produce through tapping into one´s mind. It enhances a business because it introduces fresh thinking and new ways of doing things. Most importantly it can enhance existing products or services.
Collaboration in a business is recognising the importance of interpersonal relationships to achieve success. Collaboration when done correctly creates a business environment where everyone feels at home and feels safe to share their thoughts and ideas. If employees are comfortable and feel valued it helps them blossom and contribute to the business in their own way. To create a fruitful space, collaboration needs to be at the heart of the business.
“There is no doubt that the traits above can be possessed by both women and men, but I have found that female leaders most often possess all of these traits,” says Lawrence. “The only true difference between male and female leaders is that we aren’t that different, it’s just that we have different outlooks, strengths and vision – hence it is our determination to execute our vision that sets us apart.”