How Women Leaders Have an Advantage

Let’s face it, many women in leadership positions sometimes feel like they’re at a disadvantage.  Many work in male-dominated industries or fields, and even when the female leader is in an environment laden with estrogen, most of the models of strong corporate leadership are still male figures.  For many years, to get ahead in the upper echelons of business, women had to emulate the men who were in power.  While women are increasingly learning how to be leaders in their own way, and creating new dynamics and expectations of what that means, we still have fewer models for success than men do.

One way for women to embrace leadership in their own way is to identify the strengths they bring to the table that men may not.  Women are often stronger on the “soft skills” than men, and measuring one’s Social and Emotional Intelligence (also called EI, EQ or S+EI) is a way to quantify those competencies and target skills that can help one stand out in the workplace.

“Emotional intelligence is much more powerful than IQ in determining who emerges as a leader. IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can.”  – Warren Bennis, author ofOn Becoming a Leader

Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, or at least blind spots, in skills and competencies that make them unique.  There is no one in the world with your exact mix of experience, training, interests, inherent talents, and soft skills. Understanding how all of these things come together provides you with a sense of your personal or professional brand, as well as what aspects you can capitalize on to stand out and raise your profile at work in a way that is genuinely “you.”

While generalities can be dangerous, the studies done in Emotional Intelligence provide some data-driven trends that are interesting for women in leadership. In general, men and women have different strengths in Social and Emotional Intelligence.  Women tend to have stronger skills in emotional self awareness, empathy, service orientation, developing others, building bonds, teamwork and collaboration, and other interpersonal skills.

So what does this mean for the female leader? Embracing your strengths as a woman can help you embrace your strengths as a leader.  Consider that people don’t usually leave companies – they leave managers.  A manager who understands her staff’s motivations, creates meaningful assignments, and actively looks out for her employees’ interests will likely be more successful at keeping them engaged and on the team.  This impacts retention, performance, culture, motivation, and profitability.

“Softer” skills and Emotional Intelligence competencies are the skills needed to keep employees engaged, motivated, performing at a high level, and loyal to the company.  High-functioning teams are those that perform at a high level and shine in the organization.  And leaders who demonstrate the ability to inspire and manage people effectively, particularly when combined with a strong IQ and career background, are those who have an opportunity to become a real star in the organization.

NOTE: If you would like to measure and understand your own individual strengths and competencies in Social & Emotional Intelligence, please contact us to set up a consultation and assessment to obtain your personalized profile report.