We often hear and read about discrimination of women in the workplace. However, it is not so often that we read about the competitive advantages that women can have when applying for vacancies versus their male counterparts. And they´re certainly there! Especially in today´s business world which is thankfully evolving from a more authoritarian leadership style where the rule of fear was accepted and even admired, to a more empathetic and nurturing one. Empathy and warmth are no longer seen as attributes that are not able to coexist with a solid result driven leadership approach. Businesses are now looking for commercial AND empathetic leaders who will not only present results, but who will nurture happy and energised teams who feel valued. These attributes of kindness, open communication and warmth which have traditionally been assigned to women and which were somewhat disregarded in the workforce, have now become the superpower to have, especially if coupled with a result driven and commercial mindset.
Whilst I am not a fan of gender generalisations, and I know plenty of amazing & inspiring male leaders, I do feel that women tend to have the upper hand at communication. There is an openness, candour and ability to convey emotions that in my extensive experience interviewing candidates, I have found more often in women. Most interestingly, when interviewing women who confidently (and perhaps knowingly) display this ability to communicate in an open and intelligent manner adding their individual flair and personality to a sometimes too corporate business world, the first thought that often crosses my mind is “Wow, I´m sure she´s a fantastic leader!”. I then often evaluate my train of thought and try to understand why did I feel this person was surely a fantastic leader when I have not asked her a single question about how she leads her team. After some self-reflection, I have come to the following conclusion. A great leader in my opinion, is someone who has a strong drive and ability to deliver results whilst being able to engage and inspire their teams to become better versions of themselves. When someone shows me at interview that they have a powerful drive to succeed, intelligence AND the emotional intelligence to openly communicate in a genuine, engaging and empathetic manner that shows their individuality, I can immediately visualise them directing a happy and motivated team to success. The funny thing is, while my mind was coming to this conclusion, perhaps the candidate was not even describing work achievements or responsibilities. They could have been talking to me about taking their dog to the vet or how they were climbing a mountain on holiday. At the end of the day, how you engage with other human beings in daily life, tends to be how you engage with others at work (with some obvious tweaks!).
My advice to all the wonderfully communicative, warm and engaging women currently interviewing, would be to fully embrace these attributes and be sure to let them shine at interview. If you couple this with laser focus and a result driven mindset, you are well on your path to leaving a fantastic impression.