Should women lead differently?

The question addresses two things: Should women lead differently to what they are currently doing? And, do women do leadership differently to men?

Let’s start with the gender one as it’s a nice, juicy topic. Do women do leadership differently to men?

Instinctively women operate differently to men as leaders. They are good listeners and relationship builders; they are collaborative and consensus-building.

As leaders, men tend to be directive, pragmatic, and take things at face value. They tend to be more focused on getting things done than getting things discussed.

Women’s leadership style has distinct advantages: rapport between group members is heightened, team spirit is strengthened, and honest communication keeps friction down.

Women leaders tend to love team spirit and are anxious to make sure everyone feels included, acknowledged, and honoured.

Men’s leadership style has its benefits too: stuff gets done, there is little subtext in discussions and therefore no need to guess what is really going on.

On the other hand, men tend to miss a lot of the important people-power stuff. They can sometimes overlook the nuances of interactions and may burn a few bridges by not being more sensitive to relationships and communication pathways.

So what can you do to enhance your leadership style?

Ladies, you may be favouring one style over another. In an effort to gain recognition and covet influence you may have adopted a ‘male’ style of leadership.

If you’ve been focused more on the task at hand than the person in front of you, then this is a clear sign. If you’ve started meetings without smiling or checking in with people, then there’s another clear sign you’re a little in your male zone.

Likewise, you may have been a little heavy on the female style: perhaps spending too much time and energy on morning teas, group hugs, and staff functions. If you’re list of achievements is dwindling, then this is a good indicator. Time to step in to ‘get it done’ mode.

For both women and men, good leadership requires a strong balance between relationships and practical concerns.

When in doubt, start every task, meeting, and interaction with a smile, a deep breath and remember what you are ultimately aiming to achieve: a contribution AND an enjoyable experience.

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