Gender inequality often results in women acting against their nature. But it’s their intrinsic behaviours that can change the face of any organisation.
When it comes to holding different roles, women have come a long way in recent history. That’s because they’re no longer relegated to the background and stay behind the scenes.
From the boardroom to the upper echelons of the government, you can find women at nearly every level. Women nowadays even head their own businesses and make decisions that affect entire populations.
But the fight is nowhere near over yet.
Many women are still struggling to find their place in today’s organisational environment.
One way to help women in organisations is to bring some of these behaviours to the forefront. And let them run with it.
It’s a fact that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses. But when it comes to leadership, women are the ones who display behaviours that make them excellent leaders. Men, on the other hand, don’t show these same behaviours as naturally as women do.
More women in leadership roles could do a lot for their organisations. And the best part is that many of them already exhibit these behaviours.
Women have a different way of doing things that can help their organisation. Here are a handful of behaviours that can benefit any workforce:
Behaviour #1 – People Development
How do you motivate employees to perform better?
You bet on them as individuals, not the organisation as a whole.
Many managers try to avoid performance reviews. It’s one of their most hated parts of the job. Either they don’t see the value in it, or they think that performance discussions can lead to bad feelings.
Unlike women, men focus more on the tasks involved. That’s why employee development is not a priority for most men in management. And many of them may even go out of their way to avoid feedback discussions.
It can create negative feelings in their direct reports, and that’s something they want to avoid.
On the other hand, women don’t necessarily shy away from talking to their charges. They are great at making connections and promoting individual growth, even if it leads to the inevitable talk about… feelings.
Generally, women tend to focus on the person behind the task and not the task itself. They see the individual and make sure that the person knows it.
This type of interaction doesn’t go unnoticed, too.
Employees are more likely to feel positive about their growth and development. And they perform accordingly.
People development may be something as simple as reviewing and discussing individual performance. Or it could mean giving regular feedback and stretch assignments.
Women generally have different attitudes about performance reviews. Their positive outlook means their direct reports are generally positive. Feedback is well-received and stretch assignments become developmental opportunities, not punishment.
Consequently, employee contribution generally increases when they receive more feedback and development opportunities.
Behaviour #2 – Expectations and Rewards
Do you want recognition for a job well done?
If you ask the average person, they’ll probably say “no.” Many people believe that they don’t need it. But it doesn’t change the fact that people appreciate the recognition for hard work.
Of course, the first part of giving recognition and rewards is outlining your expectations properly. Employees gladly fulfil tasks you create for them if you give them. But you need to give them clear parameters about what to accomplish and the expected outcome.
And when they do a great job on the task?
Don’t forget to thank them and show your appreciation.
It’s easy for people in management positions to overlook employees who are “just doing their job.” But great leaders know how to make people feel important. And women with leadership roles aren’t shy about giving recognition where it’s due.
You can start off simple by using common courtesy when interacting with people. Ask them about their weekend, or give a simple “good morning.” Common courtesy can help build a relationship or sustain one where you’ve already created.
Do you know that a staff member’s child had an important soccer match the past weekend? Women won’t shy away from asking about that or anything else that they know concerns their staff. Their questions are compassionate and empathetic.
But why are such questions important?
That’s because asking the right questions helps create a bond that lets employees know that they’re appreciated for who they are.
Also, giving verbal praise or writing a thank you note are very powerful motivators for people. And if you take the time to keep a copy of that note in their file, it can help magnify the power of that recognition.
Behaviour #3 – Role Modelling
Role models are people that others look up to and want to emulate. They’re considered leaders in the workplace because they exhibit behaviours or a level of success that others want to have.
And women make great role models in their organisation.
To become a role model, though, you need a degree of self-awareness. You want to be a good example to others, so you need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
So how do your strengths and weaknesses impact those around you?
Women are very good at exploring what makes them tick. They dig deep to become the best version of themselves that they can be. The same can’t be said for men, as they tend to shy away from assessing their own personalities.
Because women generally try to put the best version of themselves forward, they’re also in a great place to be a role model for others. Often, it happens without one even intending to become a role model.
Women are natural nurturers so they may take another staff member under their wing. It’s especially true if they’re part of an industry that’s notorious for creating gender barriers for advancement.
So, how does role modelling work?
A female role model may exhibit some characteristics that the other staff member admires.
For example, the role model may have poise under pressure or a reputation for getting things done. Or the employee may see how far the female role model rose in the company and want that type of success.
The beauty of role modelling, though, is that women fall naturally into that role. They’re more likely to empathise with others who struggle with the same things that they did. And they’re more likely to help.
Women want things to change, and they’re not afraid to be role models for the changes that they want.
Behaviour #4 – Inspiration
Engaging with employees is one thing, but inspiring them to great heights can have an astronomical impact on an organisation.
But what makes an inspiring leader?
As it turns out, inspiration alone just doesn’t do it. You also need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and learn how to use them to motivate others to take on innovative projects. These leaders also hold them accountable for the results.
Women in leadership roles are naturally inspirational within their organisation. They already leveraged their strengths and weaknesses to get to where they are today. But why stop there?
Females in upper management are in a great position to empower others. When they do that, they can unlock higher performance potential in their subordinates.
This may mean using traits such as openness and humility to build stronger connections. Or it can mean leveraging traits, like responsibility and unselfishness, to help set the tone.
But there isn’t a specific set of traits that makes an inspirational leader. Anybody can be an inspirational leader if they focus on what they do best.
And what do women do best?
They connect and empathise.
And they stress tolerance and perseverance.
The very traits that held women back in the workplace can also be the thing that sets them apart as inspirational.
Behaviour #5 – Participative Decision-Making
Participative decision-making goes against the normal way of doing business. Instead of management issuing orders, this behaviour supports a participatory style.
This means that management encourages input from the subordinates. But the final decision lies with the leader.
Does this sound familiar?
That’s because women have been using participative decision-making behaviour for years. Every decision seems to go to a committee of peers so that they can weigh the data before making a final decision.
Female leaders already do it in the workforce to some extent. And they’re more likely to continue doing it than their male counterparts.
For example, they may ask for input about certain objectives or who is in charge of doing specific tasks. Or they may ask for input about operations, like obtaining a new software or how to implement the change.
This approach encourages collaboration, which can lead to innovative ideas for the organisation. It can also help employees take ownership of tasks. And they’re more likely to perform better if they feel like they have a stake in the outcome.
Reap the Benefits of Leadership Behaviours
Women have to overcome many obstacles on their path to leadership roles. And one of these obstacles is how they should act in the workforce.
Too often, women hear that they need to act like men to achieve success. But that’s simply not true. And it can even hinder organisational growth in the process.
Instead, women should embrace behaviours that already come naturally to them. That’s because they invest time in developing individuals. Women also aren’t afraid of asking for input. And they’re changing the dynamics of their organisation for the better.
Women shine when you let them be who they are, instead of fitting them into gender roles.
Maybe it’s time that all organisations reap the benefits of their natural behaviours.
Are you ready for more messages of empowerment?
Contact Sarifa Younes to transform your next speaking event.