17 Reasons Women Make Great Leaders

Gender shouldn’t determine an individual’s leadership abilities. Instead, organizations must assess leadership potential by evaluating individual strengths and personality traits. However, often, women aren’t encouraged to assume leadership roles as much as their male counterparts, which contributes to the lopsided power dynamics of the corporate landscape. A recent Fortune coverage suggests that women now head 23 organizations on the Global 500 list, which is an all-time high! Besides, their representation is more diverse than ever; in 2020, only one woman of color headed a Global 500 business. In 2021, there were six women! Yet, while women are steadily climbing up the corporate ladder, the chasm between men and women in leadership roles remains apparent. 

McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report underlines the inadvertent or targeted biases prevalent in the corporate ecosystem that diminishes women’s ability to rise to C-suite roles. The study indicates that American companies, when promoting every 100 men to managerial roles, they only promote 86 women. This omission reduces their representation at the manager level, which means fewer women are eligible for promotion to C-suite roles. But women are equally, if not more, qualified than men; then what justifies this massive and unjustified disparity?

Women had more to deal with, even as companies shifted to remote and hybrid working models in the backdrop of the global pandemic, COVID-19. The McKinsey & Company report further reveals that women have been more burned out than a year ago. Meanwhile, the gap in the burnout between women and their male counterparts has doubled, almost. This prolonged stress has forced one in three women to consider leaving the workforce or downshifting their career, which is a significant increase from one in four in the first few months of the pandemic.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has also revealed similar figures. Female employment worldwide declined by 4.2 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year. For reference, male employment fell by 3 percent during the corresponding year. The decline was the steepest in the Americas (9.4%), followed by the Arab states (4.1%) and the APAC region (3.8%). Despite these headwinds, they have stepped up and are out-performing men in similar positions by helping their teams manage work-life challenges better, ensuring their well-being. Women leaders are also outdoing men in DEI initiatives. The McKinsey & Company report’s findings suggest that senior-level women are twice as likely as senior-level men to allot time for such activities at least once a week.

These insights affirm their abilities and the untapped potential that companies must unravel. Women may not always realize how poised for success they are in leadership roles, but their potential and skills are undeniable. Here are 17 reasons why women make great leaders.

1. They Value Work-life Balance

“Women are great leaders because we are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s easier to approach a woman leader with a personal request, or a sensitive question. I care about my team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance. I also find women more proactive in becoming mentors, and sometimes it’s already such an open and communicative relationship that the transition to mentor is easy.” 

– Amy Killoran, Creative Manager, I Love Travel

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2. They Are More Inclusive

“I hate to say there are female and male ways of dealing with power because I think each of us has a male and a female part. But based on my own experience, women will tend to be inclusive, to reach out more, to care a little more.” 

– Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

3. They Are More Empathetic

“One of the criticisms that I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”

– Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand  

4. They Encourage Free Thinking

“Our emerging workforce is not interested in command-and-control leadership. They don’t want to do things because I said so; they want to do things because they want to do them. 

-Irene Rosenfeld, CEO, Mondelez International

5. They Focus on Teamwork

“The women [I’ve worked with] consistently demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and an immense capacity to serve and be served by others. I’ve observed women make bold and wise decisions as leaders while relying on others to be part of their team. The environment is less authoritarian and more cooperative and family-like, but with solid leadership.” 

– Katharine M. Nohr, Principal, Nohr Sports Risk Management

6. They’re Good at Multitasking

“Women make great leaders as we are natural multitaskers. The ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership.”

– Carolann Tutera, President, SottoPelle

7. They’re Motivated By Challenges

“We are creative problem solvers motivated by obstacles. The desire to overcome a challenge fuels us to get things accomplished. Leaders don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

 – Jackie Zlatanovski, Founder, Flik Flops

8. They’re Strong Communicators

“Communication is said to be among a woman’s strongest skill — and female leaders know how to use it! Whether communicating with employers, co-workers, or partners, an open communication stream allows for clarity in executing roles and responsibilities. Female business leaders are able to communicate regularly, clearly and openly.”

 – Tina Bacon-DeFrece, President, Big Frog

9. They Dream Big

“Women make great leaders because they have an innate ability to dream big, challenge assumptions and inspire teams — and they know how to translate big ideas into concrete action and results.” 

– Angela Dejene, Executive Vice President, Crosswind Media & Public Relations

10. They Handle Crisis Situations Well

“Many women, especially moms, are trained caretakers and know how to deal with crisis situations at home with compassion and patience. These attributes become very relevant when a woman leader is dealing with crisis situations, whether this is related to HR or [clients].”

– Huma Gruaz, President and CEO, Alpaytac PR

11. They Can Wear Many Hats

“Wearing many hats is often a regular occurrence in a woman’s life. They often balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women pivot, adjust and focus on solutions. Resting in the doom and gloom can be time-consuming, so many shift to find positive solutions to life and work problems.” – Gretchen Halpin, Chief Strategy Officer, Hewins Financial Advisors

12. They Keep Their Ego In-Check

“Ego so often gets in the way of good decision-making in the C-suite. Women exhibit ego differently and they are good at decision-making with the ego held in check. This is a key advantage in working with boards of directors, partners and customers.”

– Joan Wrabetz, CTO, Quali

13. They Have High Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence — the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and relate — is something that has recently gained momentum as an essential leadership behavior. I believe this is something that comes more naturally to women than men, and is something that I’ve personally encountered in my career. To truly create a great place to work and to get the best out of employees, demonstrating emotional intelligence as a leader is critical.” 

– Lakshmi Raj, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Replicon

14. They’re Flexible

“Women make great leaders because we are flexible, and agile. We can see the direction we thought we should take if our company isn’t working and we regroup and change course for the better without much deliberation.”

– Danita Harris, CEO, Rated M

15. They Lead by Example

“Women lead by example, and in so many cases, women have climbed the ladder so they have experienced a variety of roles before they get to the leadership ones. Experience is key.” 

– Harriet Taub, Executive Director, Materials for the Arts

16. They Make Their Jobs Look Effortless

“I believe women make phenomenal leaders because they are experts at making the impossible seem possible. And sometimes on a good day they even make it look effortless. Women are pragmatic, resilient and usually able to maneuver tricky situations with grace. Their perspectives are borne out of a mix of trial by fire and sheer fortitude. They look at the world with bravery and are able to piece together the world around them like a complex puzzle.” 

– Jody Clower, Founder and CEO, Nestiny

17. They Defy the Odds

“Women make great leaders because the odds are against us to lead. When you’re the underdog, it takes an extra push to get to the top. That’s why the women who emerge on top are extraordinarily strong and capable. We had to fight to get there!” 

– Sarah Attman, Principal, Sarah Rose Public Relations

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