Leadership is not a cakewalk for all and there are very few references of good leadership for women leaders in comparison to their male counterparts. They are lagging behind and we see very fewer women in the top positions be it politics or large corporates. However, they are breaking the traditional stereotypes and reaching leadership positions which are often challenging for them. Once reached then they struggle to prove themselves over time and build credibility as a leader. Though it is often found that women in a position of power, influence and leadership are not very desirable. However, it has been widely accepted that women bring different perspective, experience and skills while making a decision.
We often see very few women leader in the top positions this is termed as “glass-ceiling ‘. It is an unofficial barrier to opportunities within an organization that prevents women to advance for leadership positions. But as it is rightly said ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ – in recent times we see many women are breaking the glass ceiling and taking top leadership positions in politics and corporates. In recent times, while handling COVID -19 pandemic the countries that have been successful in handling the health and economic impact were headed by women, they have been recognized for the rapid decision affecting the nation’s response to the pandemic.
Until a few years back with few women in the leadership positions they had to compete with the expectations that of a male leader to exercise power, authority and often directive. Ironically women leaders are far more participative, collaborative in their approach to work. They work with people rather than making people work for them. Women leaders have shown a more compassionate side of leadership being engaging, caring and nurturing towards their subordinates. This has also been labelled as a lack of assertiveness and firmness. Whenever they have shown direct behaviour just like the male counterparts they were termed as unnecessarily dominant.
If a male and female leader is compared it is evident that what a male leader has to deliberately learn comes naturally for a female leader like mentoring, coaching, collaboration; since female leaders can effectively collaborate they face fewer challenges in managing teams at different locations and can easily motivate their subordinates because of their higher emotional intelligence.
Today when we see women are pushing to reach the top they face a range of challenges. Often encounters with equality in the workplace, where people try to dislike for no apparent reason. Fear of rejection, at times, pushed aside and told they do not belong at the table. And more importantly not charging enough and quoting under price for them. Women need to empower themselves to overcome these challenges.
As I mentioned above leadership is not a cakewalk and managing the dual responsibility of home and work with proving themselves becomes often stressful. However, in recent times we have seen the organizations are sensitive and with the support of immediate family, women are proving themselves to be visionary. With an increasing number of female leaders, it reiterates that women are equally capable as male leaders. The assessment of effective leadership should be based on leadership style rather than on gender. Author – Moumita Ray
Moumita Ray is a human resource leader with rich experience in designing & developing strategies, processes, enhancing capabilities, and building culture to help businesses achieve its excellence.