Why Female Leaders Outperform Men (And Why We Need More Of Them)

Women leaders outperform men. So why don’t we have more female leaders at the top? Here’s why and what we can do about it.

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Female Leadership

Organisations around the world have recognized the potential of women leaders in terms of their leadership skills and leadership ability.

According to the Harvard Business Review, at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts.

In fact, women in leadership roles not only excel at leadership traits that are traditionally women’s strengths, such as nurturing, developing others, building relationships, exhibiting integrity and engaging in self-development.

Female leaders also scored higher in 12 of 16 leadership competencies including those of taking initiative and driving for results , which were previously considered male strengths.

In his book, Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (And How to Fix It), author Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, asks two powerful questions:

  • Why is it so easy for incompetent men to become leaders?
  • And why is it so hard for competent people – especially competent women – to advance?

Based on decades of rigorous research on types of leadership, he found that although men make up a majority of leaders, they underperform when compared with female leaders.

In his TED Talk, Chamorro-Premuzic states that there’s a pathological mismatch between the qualities that seduce us in a leader and those that are needed to be an effective leader.

He shows that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders.

Chamorro-Premuzic gives the example of Angela Merkel as one of the most effective female political leaders of our time and one of the most powerful women in the world, despite lacking the charismatic leadership and bluster of many male leaders.

One can also quote the example of women rulers like Queen Elizabeth II, who was once one of the most powerful women in the world.

Today, she continues to perform her duties as the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world’s longest-serving female head of state.

There are also many Indian women leaders in history who led their charges with quiet determination and no fanfare, but went down as some of the great female leaders of the world.

In 2017, a study by Nordea showed that companies run by women perform far better than the market. They also found a higher number of companies with female CEOs in India, China and the United States.

Because of their female leadership traits and leadership styles, female business leaders have proven to be more adept in managing crises, more conservative in matters involving money, and skilled at managing clients and inter-team relationships.

So why don’t we have more female leaders at the top? Chamorro-Premuzic believes that the main obstacle preventing competent women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men.

And, that’s true. We should be making it harder for incompetent men to become leaders. How can we do that? By nurturing and helping women leaders develop leadership qualities and skills that will help them succeed.

Countries like India have a high number of female CEOs, and today, India has a woman finance minister. There is no dearth of programs, activities, laws, and organizations for women empowerment in India.

If all women leaders learned to utilize the resources available to us to grow and learn, we could significantly increase the numbers of women who run the world.

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