Women’s leadership is just as important as men’s; it is not more important or less important. The key thing is that leadership is not a single approach or style. In my career I have come across many types of male and female leaders, covering the whole spectrum of styles from inspirational to authoritarian to democratic. There is not a one fits all approach, as not all leadership styles work in all situations. Recognising that there is more than one way to lead is essential for women to be recognised as leaders, but more importantly recognise themselves as leaders.
As with most things to do with human behaviour or characteristics, it is unfair to generalise to say that women are better leaders because they are more emotionally intelligent. The spectrum of personalities for men and women can have all extremes of everything from confidence to strategic abilities. Recognising leadership potential irrespective of gender has to become the priority, it’s more than just a numbers game in the board room.
For me one of the most important changes still to be made is in young women. Young women need to believe in themselves and each other as having leadership potential. In my career there have been a number of times that I have doubted myself. I have been excited about a new role, only to feel crippling doubts on my ability days later. However it’s been through the support of loved ones that I have been able to push through my doubt that has got me to where I am today.
Being part of the Next Generation Network steering committee has allowed me to interact with some truly inspirational young leaders over the last few years. It has also been an amazing experience for me to develop my own leadership style by gaining confidence through having a fantastic support network. I would recommend to any young professional to find a network, such as the NGN where you can learn and ask for advice in a safe and trusting environment.
For women’s leadership to truly become just as important as men’s, it is important to understand what that means. Even though it’s important, it’s more than the number of women in the board room, it’s the pipeline of women leaders who are confident in their own leadership style. Women don’t have to ‘act like men’ to be leaders, because there is more than one way to be a man! It’s time to ‘Follow She’, and be the leader that you want to be, everyday.