In the world of small business, there are more men than women bosses. However, two recent studies show that women may make for better leaders.
According to a survey conducted by Chris Bart, professor of strategic management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and Gregory McQueen, a McMaster graduate and senior executive associate dean at Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, women actually run better performing businesses than men.
Last year, Zeneger Folkman, a company that studies leadership, found that women rated higher than men on 12 out of 16 attributes tested. After analyzing 7,280 of their clients' performance evaluations, they found two traits where women outscored men significantly: taking initiative and driving results.
Here are five additional ways that women are more effective bosses than men, and tips on how everyone—men and women—can improve their leadership skills.
1. Better communicators. Women are better listeners than men, and this is exactly the skill that is most critical for managing employees and customers. According to Dr. Susan Sherwood, this is a result of women being more discussion oriented and men wanting to just take action. Men communicate through activities rather than conversations.
Why this is an important skill for everyone: Employees want their managers to hear their point of view, and customers want everyone to empathize with their problems. Being a better communicator will lead to a stronger relationship built on trust, which is critical to establishing loyalty.
2. Better community builders. Women are better consensus builders and don’t have the need like men to direct everyone in what to do. In this world of the connected Internet, “beta managers,” those that know how to build cooperative relationships, are becoming more successful than traditional “alpha managers.”
Why this is an important skill for everyone: In the new book The Fall of the Alphas, Dana Ardi shows how the traditional top down, male dominated authoritarian leader is being replaced by a more collaborative and connected manager. She says that the best managers are learning to lead through the influence that comes from building collaboration rather than straight force or all out competition.
3. Stronger business ethics. Bart and McQueen find that women, who are effective managers, “acknowledge and consider the rights of others in the pursuit of fairness … that is consistently applied in a non-arbitrary fashion.”
Why this is an important skill for everyone: Running a small business is a minefield of ethical choices. When pushed to the limit, too many owners do the wrong thing and run askew of their own ethical (and sometimes legal) standards. A strong moral code will help business owners deal with these types of challenges, which will certainly push them to their limit.
4. More patience. Women are far more patient with employees than men. They are less likely to jump to an immediate conclusion or make a quick decision or take action too soon. A study commissioned by myHermes shows that women are willing to wait longer for a desired result.
Why this is an important skill for everyone: For most small businesses, “overnight success” takes seven to 10 years. The winners are the ones that can be patient enough to take actions, which result in small steps toward a specific goal.
5. Better at activating passion. According to Jay Forte, author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, women are “more astute about knowing how to activate passion in their employees. They watch the 43 muscles in your face and see how your emotions change.”
Why this is an important skill for everyone: Passion builds loyalty. Motivate your employees, and they’ll in turn be passionate about your product or service and company. As Sarah Robinson says in her book Fierce Loyalty, “in a social media world where most consumers check online reviews before buying, a fiercely loyal community is the strongest marketing strategy for any business.”
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