BY VANESSA VAN EDWARDS
Do men and women lead differently? Researchers have found that women tend to have a distinct leadership style that shapes how they run their teams. Specifically, these studies show that women tend to use what’s called the transformational leadership style.
Transformational Leadership: Transformational leaders aim to enhance the motivation, morale and job performance of followers by working with teams to identify needed change, to create a shared vision and to guide through inspiration.
Women in leadership can leverage their natural inclination toward transformational leadership by using the following strategies.
Strategy #1: Development Over Goals
Setting and achieving goals is incredibly important for business success. However, transformational leaders see employee development as a side door to achieving goals. Female managers should aim to accomplish goals by transforming their teams into better people. Here are some key tactics of transformational leaders:
- They seek to be a role model who inspires their subordinates.
- They invest a lot of time in coaching their team members and care about their personal development.
- They emphasize teamwork and authentic communication as a key to success.
- Spend more time engaging with your team members on a personal level.
- Look for ways to inspire your team members to be more motivated in accomplishing your goals.
Strategy #2: Don’t Be Transactional
The opposite of transformational leadership is transactional leadership. Picture the boss who sits in his or her office giving orders and receiving progress updates from his or her employees, but rarely engages with them on a personal level. They’re all about the results — sometimes forsaking personal development.
Key tactics of transactional leaders include:
- They often remain uninvolved to let their teams focus on their work.
- They wait until problems become severe before they step in take charge of the situation.
- They usually only engage with subordinates to give orders and hold them accountable for making mistakes and/or failing to meet expectations.
Researchers have found that women need to show strength and sensitivity. The transactional style can be detrimental to female bosses. This is why women need to focus more heavily on the transformational leadership style because it allows them to set high expectations, while personally helping the members of their teams.
Strategy #3: Leverage Your Gender
Neuroscientists have discovered that women have higher oxytocin levels than men. Oxytocin is nicknamed the “cuddle hormone” because it makes you feel connected to people. Because of this, women instinctively care more about their subordinates’ well-being and have a stronger desire to connect with them on a personal level.
This is why women, more so than men, view leadership as an opportunity to grow their subordinates as individuals instead of just giving directions to reach goals. Women’s brains also make them better at explaining their emotions. We should leverage these differences. Watch the video to see how.
Strategy #4: Banning Bossy
From a young age, girls are taught that when they speak up and take charge, they are bossy, but boys are called leaders for behaving in the exact same ways. This phenomenon plays a huge role in why women are significantly less likely to pursue leadership opportunities than men. Luckily, there is a movement to change this.
Leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg and Beyoncé are calling out society for persuading girls that there is something wrong with them for speaking up. They are making an effort to ensure ambitious girls are labeled as the leaders they are and not written off as bossy.
- Banish “bossy” from your vocabulary.
- Highlight the difference in expectations with your team.
- Spread the knowledge — share this post and video with your team.
Strategy #5: Strength-Based Tasks
One of the best things women can do as bosses and transformational leaders is assigning people tasks according to their strengths. Rather than delegating work based on time or workload, learn what each member of your team is naturally good at and enjoys and give them as much work as possible that fits that.
The best way to do this is to spend time engaging with your team on a personal level. Find out their inside-of and outside-of-work strengths. They might surprise you! You also might consider giving them a personality quiz. Our Personality Quiz is the only personality science backed by academic research. Take the quiz yourself and send it to your colleagues.
Strategy #6: Over-Communicate
As we learned, female bosses already are naturally inclined to verbally communicate. This is the key to success. When your team feels comfortable being transparent with you, you’re less likely to have to deal with major problems because they feel safe coming to you for help the moment issues start to arise.
- Remind your team why their work matters. Find something that makes each and every one of your team member’s work meaningful. Your goal should be to make them feel as though they are doing something greater than working for a paycheck.
As women, we have a tremendous opportunity to be incredible bosses and managers. All we have to do is leverage our natural female strengths and put them into action.