The Intrinsic Value of Women in Leadership
In my 25 years of experience, I have encountered many of the obstacles that plague women in leadership—assumptions regarding lesser competence, pay inequality, and leading with emotions, to name a few. Yet, I have found that being a female executive affords both unique and compelling advantages for success—high emotional quotient (EQ) and team orientation, resilience and perseverance, and the innate desire to excel at whatever we do.
Honing your EQ serves you well, both personally and professionally, despite the pervasive talk track that emotion in the workplace is synonymous with weakness. In my opinion, if you can read your friends’ and family’s moods, you can read your colleagues’ moods, which makes you equipped to adapt to them and anticipate, rather than feel the need to dominate. It is amazing what you can achieve when you enter a dialogue without concern for being right or receiving credit. Think of EQ as an authentic path to passion, teamwork, and diversity—a beacon for culture-building among employees, customers, and influencers.
Where EQ does not prove to be useful, resilience and perseverance will—and that is something women have in spades. Being a female leader requires thick skin, without a doubt. Frankly, you need thick skin in leadership, regardless of gender. There will be undermining, backstabbing, and scapegoating. There will also be individual and team victories, company milestones, and achievements you will anchor on for the rest of your career. Resilience and perseverance get you to those moments. As the wise Wayne Dyer once said, “Always remember that every obstacle is a test and an opportunity.”
Finally, women in leadership must embrace their inherent desire to excel at anything they put their minds to. This is essential, no matter your industry, profession, or seniority. The great equalizers in business are performance and results orientation. If you are going to spend eight or more hours at a job every day, away from home and family, be world class at what you do—both in leadership and execution. Everyone wants the A-player on their team, and being an A-player is a combination of both what you deliver and how you deliver it.
Women in any field have the unique opportunity to not just raise the bar, but also change the perspective. It’s not about why organizations should have more women in leadership. It’s about what they’re sacrificing if they don’t.