Sector News

The Strategy That Makes Women Better Leaders

February 5, 2015
Diversity & Inclusion
It’s no secret that the “gender gap” between men and women is still a big workplace issue. Some experts believe female professionals are their own worst enemies, because women tend to be less assertive about their professional growth than men.
 
However, a new study by talent management system Saba Software suggests that women’s attitudes toward leadership and career development could play an important role in their career progress.
 
The Saba survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found that 60 percent of male employees expect their companies to play an active role in their individual career options, versus 49 percent of female employees who expect this. Emily He, chief marketing officer of Saba Software, said that this supports findings from other studies that women are more hesitant to speak up about their career ambitions. But Saba also discovered that women are driven more by intrinsic motivations about work, rather than what their jobs or employers demand from them.  
 
“In contrast to men, who tend to be career-centric and want to maximize their financial return from work, women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan,” He told Business News Daily. “Therefore, they’re more likely to approach their careers in a self-reflective way and value factors such as meaning, purpose, connection with co-workers and work-life integration.”
 
Women’s inclination toward a holistic, self-reflective approach could explain why female employees define leadership differently than some men do. Sixty-five percent of women (versus 56 percent of men) said they view leaders as those who share their knowledge and connect with their colleagues to help the team and the business. When women bring this attitude into managerial roles, it may actually make them stronger, more-effective leaders. 
 
“In many ways, women have advantages to be strong leaders, especially for the younger-generation workforce,” He said. “Their natural tendencies to be good listeners, provide constant feedback, nurture employees, share knowledge with others and build collaborative relationships make women better equipped to lead and cultivate millennials.”
 
Saba’s survey found that only 60 percent of women said they feel that they are leaders based on their participation in the business. So how can more women capitalize on their natural leadership traits and use them to get ahead? He’s best advice to female professionals is to bring their full selves to the workplace, and to not hold back from discussing their career aspirations with their supervisors. This is especially true of women who eventually plan to take a break from the workforce to raise a family.
 
“I’ve seen too many women compromise their career ambitions too early in anticipation of better work-life balance once they start a family,” she said. “Unfortunately, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you compromise early on, the less likely you are to get to a great job that captures your strength, imagination and passion, and the more likely you are to give up on pursuing your career once you have your own family. If you give [your job] all you have, you’re going to end up with great career options that you are excited about.”  
 
By Nicole Fallon
 

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