Why Women Hold The Key To Authentic Leadership

Mar 19, 2024 4 Min Read

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How Women are Redefining the Leadership Landscape

In a world where change is accelerating, authentic leadership has emerged as an important leadership philosophy for future-focused organisations. At the heart of this, women leaders are proving to be the ideal torchbearers. Their innate qualities and distinctive perspectives are not just enriching leadership but are also setting a new benchmark for authenticity.

Of course, you can’t paint an entire gender with one brush, but data show that women excel in many of the competencies that are essential for effective authentic leadership. “An analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews revealed that women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones,” according to Harvard Business Review.

Here are seven ways women are redefining leadership:

1. Pursuing Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of authentic leadership. Before being able to understand those around you, you must understand your own strengths, challenges, preferences, and biases. Self-awareness is the first step in Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence (EQ) model, the first phase of the personal branding process, and an essential attribute for building relationships. It is obtained through self-reflection and external feedback. Yet, despite women being 20% less likely to receive actionable feedback, according to Korn Ferry, ”Women are 86% more likely to display consistent and effective emotional self-awareness.”

2. Embracing Emotional Intelligence

Women often bring a high degree of emotional intelligence to the table. They are adept at reading the room, empathising with their colleagues, and responding to non-verbal cues. “Women are superior to men at decoding emotions,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Empathy is a strategic asset for women in leadership. By genuinely understanding and valuing the feelings of others, women leaders create a supportive environment that encourages risk-taking and innovation. This emotional acumen positions them to forge strong bonds and nurture a culture of trust and respect within their teams.

3. Prioritising Collaboration

The female approach to leadership often emphasises collaboration over competition. Women tend to build networks of cooperation that benefit the whole, understanding that a collective effort often results in greater success. Collaboration is essential to solving challenging problems and innovating at work. CEO/founder of HR consulting firm, Chief of Minds, Lakeisha Robichaux shares one of her secrets to successful collaboration,Celebrate the wins, challenges, and lessons learned. Often times, we get bogged down with only identifying wins, however, success and solutions can be found in every stage of collaboration.”

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4. Communicating Effectively

Women excel in open and honest communication. Their leadership style is often inclusive and transparent, encouraging feedback and sharing information openly with the aim of empowering their teams. Women are better communicators than men, which can lead to an enhanced ability to connect with others, motivate and strengthen teams, and perhaps most importantly, become better leaders, according to a study featured in Harvard Business Review. Women leaders have a unique ability to be assertive without foregoing compassion. They can drive performance and demand excellence while also being supportive and understanding. And because women hold fewer senior leadership roles, they bring a different perspective to the discussion with peers. Women represent roughly only one in four C-suite leaders, according to LeanIn.org.

5. Fostering Inclusivity and Belonging

A natural inclination towards inclusivity means women leaders are often champions of diversity. They work to ensure various voices are heard and acknowledged, paving the way for more innovative and inclusive decision-making processes. They build environments of belonging where team members feel heard and acknowledged. Belonging is a common value among most people, according to research from Valuegraphics.

6. Demonstrating Resilience

Women have a remarkable capacity for resilience, often built through overcoming personal and professional obstacles. This resilience is infectious and inspires teams to bounce back stronger from setbacks. Women were rated as excelling in “acting with resilience,” according to HBR.

7. Championing Growth

Women leaders are perpetual learners who value development and growth. They are often seen leading the charge for training and continuous improvement within their organisations. They recognise the power of guidance and are often passionate about mentoring others, fostering the next generation of leaders. One prominent women leader, civil rights activist, and suffragette Mary Church Terrell summed it up in this four-word challenge: Lift as you climb.

The key to authentic leadership lies not in commanding authority but in demonstrating genuine care for the organisation and its people. These traits are powerful tools that women use to unlock the true potential within their organisations. Women, with their nuanced approach to leadership, are setting a new standard that resonates with today’s talent and the needs of a rapidly evolving workplace.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

This article is also available in Chinese.

Edited by: Kiran Tuljaram

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Tags: Women & Leadership


William Arruda is the bestselling author of the definitive books on personal branding: Digital YOU, Career Distinction and Ditch. Dare. Do! And he’s the creative energy behind Reach Personal Branding and CareerBlast.TV – two groundbreaking organizations committed to expanding the visibility, availability, and value of personal branding across the globe. For more information on Personal Branding , please visit williamarruda.com. 


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