“While men excel in the technical and strategic arenas, women clearly have the advantage in the extremely important areas of people relationships and communication,” notes Joe Folkman. “They also surpass their male counterparts in driving for results. This we know is counter-intuitive to many men.”
Women are tops in almost all the key areas that promote business success including championing change and innovation, say the researchers who asked leaders to rate the performance of peers, colleagues and bosses for a survey published by Harvard Business Review.
Women’s strengths as leaders keep employees hanging in and focused, promote happy customers and profitability, they say.
Another recent study by international research house Gallup showed female bosses are generally more engaged in their work, and women who report to women bosses are the most ‘into’ their jobs. Men who report to male managers are more likely to switch off.
Just what is it that women bosses get so right? We've gathered several outstanding winners from the 2014 Telstra Business Women’s Awards to give us the lowdown.
Chief Executive Officer, UnitingCare in Queensland, Telstra National Business Woman of the Year 2014
Women can make the connections needed both inside and outside the business because they are very adept at communicating, listening and understanding. This is key to my role as a CEO. I have great curiosity about what makes people ‘tick’, about their lives, their challenges and how they cope, and about what brings them joy and happiness.
Ask for what you need
Sometimes women feel like they can’t ask for what they need to manage work and home life because they fear they won’t be taken seriously. Women leaders should model behaviours that focus on individual needs, as well as meeting business objectives.
Join the strategic dots
In any business it is critical for someone to hold the big picture in mind and join all the dots between the on-the-ground work and the strategy. This skill is what helps to grow a business or service and develop staff. I think many women are good at this.
Assistant Commissioner and highest ever ranked policewoman in Tasmania, Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year 2014
Lead by example
Being prepared to expose your emotions, feelings, setbacks or hardships on real community issues can have a significant effect on others and can positively influence vulnerable people to listen and learn from your experience. Women leaders are more prepared to share their positive and negative experiences for the positive benefit of others.
Never sell your soul
There will always be challenges to take shortcuts or bend the rules for a quick resolution. Never be tempted to take this path as it could come with unexpected risks or an expectation that you will give favourable treatment to someone in return.
Be a ‘one percenter’
I was recently described by an employee as being the ‘one percenter’ — doing things such as sending birthday cards, giving staff an ‘early minute’ (to attend special events), phoning them when they’re sick — but, most importantly for this employee, letting him share his ideas on how to achieve our goals.
CEO, Evolve Housing, Telstra Business Innovation Award winner 2014
Factor in empathy
I have always run my business with a little bit of empathy. I’ve been hard but fair, I think. I treat people the way I believe they should treat me. I’ve found that people who have that emotional understanding are the best leaders.
Make values flexible
Values should be clearly defined, but not rigid — you need a bit of grey around them, because everyone is different. We have to understand another person’s approach to a particular situation and sometimes that can be very hard if you haven’t been there yourself.
No wrong answers
It’s important for women to recognise that life is their own journey. You may get to a T-junction and turn left, but you can always do a U-turn and try something else. Look at me, I was working in IT and now I’m in a not-for-profit organisation.