Women Can Use Our Unique Advantages to Advance Our Careers and Shine As Leaders

Speak up, stand up, and show up.

Westend61/ Getty Images
Westend61/ Getty Images

By Linda Smith

Women have the ability to join intelligence, empathy, and emotion to enhance our capacity for thought and understanding of interpersonal dynamics. We are born with these qualities, and thereafter learn through societal norms to exhibit them. The result? Women have highly-developed emotional intelligence and excel as leaders. Harvard Business Review recognized women’s leadership skills, hailing emotional intelligence as a ground-breaking, “paradigm-shattering idea.”

What’s behind this conclusion? Social scientists designed empirical studies to analyze the factors that increase corporate productivity and management effectiveness, and then developed a matrix of the measurable competencies most important for overall leadership effectiveness. In study after study, women rated higher than men in eleven out of twelve of those competencies. And the higher scores are not just in competencies reflecting so-called “soft” skills, such as dealing with people’s feelings. In fact, two of the traits in which women outscored men to the highest degree —taking initiative and driving for results — have long been perceived as particularly male strengths.

Based on these studies, the Harvard Business Review published an article finding that “thousands of academic studies have demonstrated the predictive power of scientific EQ assessments vis-à-vis job performance, leadership potential, entrepreneurship, and employability.” Other publications jumped on the bandwagon.

Despite how some men see it, women’s ability to lead should hardly be a groundbreaking revelation. Still, the recognition of women’s leadership skills, as chronicled in research studies, media reports, and now the recommendations of management consultants and efficiency experts, gives us an empirical basis to effect change. When Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal talk, men listen. The time is ripe for us to act boldly.

No longer will women with demonstrably superior leadership skills meekly carry out men’s bidding. No more will we allow male bosses to disrespect us or belittle highly-accomplished women. It’s time to flex our freshly-accredited competencies to prevent men from stepping on or over us in their quest for success. We must use our proven emotional intelligence as a springboard to excel as leaders.

Now is the time for women to:

Speak up.

Be brave and take risks. If you have an idea or disagree with what’s being said for reasons you think are sound, speak up. Shut down mansplaining, manterrupting, or allowing men to appropriate your ideas as their own.

Step up.

Opportunities are rarely handed to you on a plate — you have to reach out and seize them. Take risks and advocate for yourself. When you get your hands on a project, dive into it and take charge.

Show up.

Display your true grit. Demonstrate the tenacity to prove yourself over and over. Take on the next challenge and keep achieving. Push back against those who deny you what you need.

Stand up.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. How will you ever reach your goals if you quietly perform only the assignments you are handed? Ask for plum and stretch assignments, leadership roles, salary increases, and promotions.

Linda Smith focuses on high-stakes litigation that goes to trial and has been named a “Top Woman Litigator” by both the National Law Journal and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Throughout her 40-year career, she has worked on some of the biggest “bet the company” cases on record. These days, her focus is on developing a platform to help other women unleash their power and become leaders in their chosen fields.

Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com

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