You know the evidence of great leadership when you see it. A company is thriving, employees are productive and satisfied, and clients and customers enjoy interacting with the company. What are those leadership qualities that make a business successful all around, and how can you best develop those skills?
Easy: It starts with a toolbox you likely already possess.
Maybe the word used to get a bad rap. In a formerly male-dominated workplace, “femininity” conjured up stereotypical images of “niceness”, hypersensitivity and indecision, qualities not usually seen as signs of strength and not likely to lead to success. It even came out in fashion when women padded their shoulders to look more powerful and masculine. No more.
Today, being “feminine” in the workplace is getting a new look. A Stanford University study showed that both men and women excel in the workplace when they can successfully integrate and self-manage so-called qualities of masculinity and femininity. Those feminine qualities— which can be exhibited regardless of gender— include empathy, vulnerability, generosity, and patience, and allow you to be a thoughtful, inclusive leader who sees not just short-term results but recognizes the benefits of efforts that lead to success in the long term.
Good leaders know how to strike an important work-life balance. Taking care of your own mental and physical health is not only is better for you, it’s better for your workplace. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set an example for your team, showing them there’s more to life than a bottom line. That helps attract and retain today’s talented employees who are interested in working for companies that care about them and the world around them.
Great leaders know when to take a step back. This could mean letting your team take the lead on a project or even getting out of the office for a while. Evidence shows that when executives take a vacation, their employees do better at their jobs. Vacations can also inspire ideas, improve attention to detail, and give new life to your productivity.
Inclusiveness and humility—the qualities that allow you to recruit help and share credit—help you to recognize the strengths of your team members and delegate work that fits their strengths. These are important ways to both build team cohesiveness and to get the most out of the talent you already have. It’s also a way to help prepare the next generation for leadership roles and cultivate talent from within.
Inclusivity means valuing differences between individuals, recognizing that different perspectives may be highly valuable to your company, and making extra efforts to include these perspectives in meetings or on projects. You can make inclusivity a priority by recruiting a diverse team, understanding differences in work styles, and making adjustments for physical needs, such as environmental sensitivities. An inclusive workplace is a stronger one.
Trust your intuition
We always hear about the power of women’s intuition, and there may be science behind it. Intuition is essentially a way of processing information unconsciously or automatically. A study from the University of Granada, the Barcelona Pompeu Fabra University, and Middlesex University shows that women are generally more intuitive than men, who on average tend to employ more analytical thinking in problem-solving. Scientists at Amen Clinics also found that women’s brains are “wired for leadership,” meaning that they are more active in areas that control empathy, collaboration, and intuition.
Listening to and trusting our intuition can give us quick information about people and situations – that gut feeling we all carry. But combining that ability with our skill of carefully analyzing a situation, as well as collaborating with others, can provide us with deeper insight, layers, and complexities that can lead us to the best leadership decisions.