The vast majority of nations remain ruled by men. What if, instead of the snail's pace of getting more women in government, current leaders took a more a female approach to leadership while more women are getting into government? For too long, political and corporate leadership has been dominated by overly macho, individualistic and aggressive men. Why aren't more male leaders looking to their female peers for inspiration. Women like Jacinda Ardern, who is not only the youngest female world leader on earth, she is also the youngest New Zealand prime minister in over 150 years. Impressively, she won the deputy leader seat of the New Zealand Labour Party in a landslide victory just a few months before securing the prime minister nomination. Last May, she impressed the world even further when she announced a first-of-its kind “wellbeing” budget to tackle mental illness, family violence and child poverty. This is the type of leadership we need.
Before anyone gets offended, I am not saying the all leaders need to be more feminine (although I would not be against that...), I am saying that there are some favourable aspects of a more feminine style which tends to be more relationship oriented and democratic. This is where I think women leaders come into their own. Being able to know, respond and serve the people who have elected you is a real strength, particularly in times of great unknowns and high anxieties. This approach compared to the likes of the current strongman version of power, in the vain of Donald Trump, is proving impotent compared to the more understated but innovative and decisive female versions of power.
There have been years of research timidly suggesting that women’s leadership styles might be different and beneficial. Yet still too many political organisations and companies are still working to get women to behave more like men if they want to lead or succeed. Research by by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in the Harvard Business Review stated that women are rated better than men on key leadership capabilities. According to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones. (It is worth checking out the entire study with the link above).
It should be no surprise that women leaders from around the world have stepped up and made very different decisions regarding COVID19 responses. Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, for example, introduced 124 measures to block the spread without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. She is now sending 10 million face masks to the U.S. and Europe. Tsai managed what CNN has called “among the world’s best” responses, keeping the epidemic under control, still reporting only six deaths. There are a mere 16 women leaders out of 193 UN recognized nation-states. That’s a measly 8%. There are 10 Nations who have successfully “flattened the curve” right now. Women lead 40% of them. Let's take notice of this difference and welcome the new wave of dedicated, courageous and effective women leaders. These leaders are not settling for 'equality', they want something better than what has come before them and they are making it happen. Read more from Forbes about Tsai and other current female leaders here.