Studies show that the stereotypes surrounding women in leadership positions stem from how some people cannot be certain of the competence of a woman than that of a man. Traditional media would say that men are simply more capable in being effective leaders. This roots in how women are perceived to be the more “communal” of the two sexes, meaning that they lean more on the warm and kind end of the spectrum, whereas men are more “agentic”, meaning they tend to be more authoritative.
Indeed, studies do indicate that women’s nature is more on the “soft side” compared to men – but does that necessarily mean that women can’t be as effective as men in leadership?
Let’s first define what “communal” means in the context of work. Being a communal leader entails getting to know your community better through associating yourself with them and their needs. Women, being communal leaders, put themselves in a good position to manage an organization through such. They build stronger relationships that results in better outcomes for operations. In cases wherein their judgement is called for, women tend to handle these with calmness rooted in compassion, sensitivity, and empathy. Factors affecting the women leaders’ approach all trace back to their undermined, yet essential “soft skills.” Women actually do better than men in 11 out of 12 emotional intelligence competencies. As stated by Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD (n.d., cited in Hyder, 2019), “… If more men acted like women in employing their emotional and social competencies, they would be substantially and distinctly more effective in their work.” As influenced by such skills, women have been proven by research to become more honest and ethical than men. On an organizational level of influence, resulting in such communal nature of women in leadership, a better sense of motivation is cultivated in the workplace. This social impact has likewise increased performance, as seen in how decision-making is made more participatory, among other endeavors done in a communal and relational manner.
Indeed, women leaders are still underrepresented in the workplace, although the rise of their demographic has been promising. It must be noted that such underrepresentation, however, does not root in how women are softer, less confident, barely assertive, or any other stereotypical adjective attributed to women; rather, it roots in how the same stereotypes impede people into thinking that such an inspiring nature of women can actually generate great leadership that is more community-oriented. In essence, being a communal woman leader is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength – only made apparent if people had the quality of mind to open themselves to that thought.