A Leading Woman

Have you experienced any difference in being led by a man and by a woman? Most probably your answer would be: “YES, I have”. Have you ever wondered WHAT exactly this difference is about?

There is a strong public interest in seeing more women becoming leaders and thereby reverse their underrepresentation in the ranks of power. However, too many proposed solutions are based on the misconception, in my estimation. The thinking goes as follows: since men hold most of top positions, they must be doing something right, so why not make women behave like them?

But this logic ignores the relatively poor performance of most male leaders . As I argued in my other post (…), the real problem is not a lack of competent women, but too few obstacles to incompetent men. This explains the overabundance of overconfident, narcissistic, and unethical people in leadership positions. Apologies for saying that but ….… .

Research shows that the higher percentage of male senior leaders is not the result of greater leadership talent in men. Many and large-scale quantitative studies, including meta-analyses, indicate that gender differences in leadership talent are either non-existent or point out that these are women who seem to be natural-born leaders.

With this in mind, it would be more logical to reverse the suggested solution: instead of encouraging women to behave like male leaders (many of whom are incompetent), we should ask men in power to adopt some of the more effective leadership behaviours that are more common in women. This would create a pool of better role models that could pave the way for advancement for both competent men and women. As simple as that.


Here are my 8 TOP leadership tips that most men can learn from an average woman:

Put your people ahead of yourself.

It’s very hard to turn a group of people into a high-performing team when your main focus is … yourself. This involves people who see leadership as a glorified career destination. Imagine a person who is only interested in being a leader so they can chase a bigger paycheck, the corner office, a more senior position, or any other sign of high status. Clearly, they will be inherently less interested in making others better; their only goal is to climb the success ladder. As men are generally more self-focused than women (nothing to complain – this is how we are created), they are more likely to lead in a narcissistic manner. If an average male leader would wish to enhance their performance, what they could possibly do to reach this goal, would be adopting less self-centered style of leadership.

Don’t lean in when you’ve got nothing to lean in about.

There is a trend of telling women to “lean in” to qualities like assertiveness or confidence. In men, such qualities can manifest as self-promotion, taking credit for others’ achievements, and acting in aggressive ways. Since there has never been a strong correlation between leaning in and being good at something – a better option would be to stop falling for people who lean in when they lack the talents to back it up. In a logical world, we would promote people into leadership roles when they are competent rather than confident, vetting them for their expertise, track record and relevant leadership competencies (e.g., intelligence, curiosity, empathy, integrity, and coachability). Sounds unrealistic sometimes, isn`t it?

Focus on elevating others.

Female leaders have been proven to be more likely to coach, mentor, and develop their direct reports than male leaders. We are true talent agents, using feedback and direction to help people grow. We are more often a natural people developer. This means being less transactional and more strategic in their relationship with employees and it also includes the openness to hire people who are better than themselves, because our egos are less likely to stand in the way. This enables us to unlock other people’s potential and promote effective cooperation on their teams. A little bit like … moms (?).

Motivate through transformation.

Academic studies show that women are more likely to lead through inspiration, transforming people’s attitudes and beliefs and aligning people with meaning and purpose (rather than through carrots and sticks), than men are. Since transformational leadership is linked to higher levels of team engagement, performance, and productivity, it is a critical path to improving leaders’ performance. The key is fighting for a change in beliefs rather than behaviours. It is way more time-consuming but offers more long-term and long-lasting results.

Don’t command; empathize.

Throughout history, we have been told that we are too kind, caring and emotional to be leaders. Does really someone who is not kind and caring can lead effectively at odds with reality. We don’t live in medieval times. The 21st century leadership demands that leaders establish an emotional connection with their followers. Indeed, while AI will hijack the technical and hard-skill elements of leadership, so long as we have humans at work, they will crave the validation, recognition, and empathy that only humans — not machines — can provide. Men can learn a lot about how to do this effectively by watching women. Soo proud of being a woman then!

Don’t say you’re “humble.” Be humble.

There are well-established gender differences in humility, and they favour women.. Humility is fundamentally a feminine trait. It is also the feature that seems essential to being a great leader. Without humility, it will be very hard for anyone in charge to acknowledge their mistakes, learn from experience, take into account other people’s perspectives, to say “you were right” and be willing to change and get better.

And last but not least …

Peace of mind has no price.

How often do you give up or abandon your ideas for the sake of peace of mind? If you believe in something, do you fight for it or do you give up the fight for ideas? Bringing people to our ideas is time and energy consuming. Sometimes our hands drop…. do you ever experience the feeling? In my viewpoint, women are much better at leading teams in such situations. With empathy, patience and focus on people. Men often approach tasks pragmatically – and this is a good approach, too. But when it comes to employee`s development – pragmatism is quite often not enough.


At the end of the day, the best gender equality intervention is to focus on equality of talent and potential. That only happens when we have gender-equal leadership to enable men to learn different leadership approaches from women as much as women have always been told to learn leadership approaches from men. There are plenty of skills women can learn from men as well. This summary is obviously some short cut. Men, these lessons accelerate your leadership development. Women, these are the reasons why you should already have become leaders and why you should demand what you deserve.

Yes, I am a leading woman. All the ideas above, sound a bit feministic, I know. I am still the same girl with the same name. Just have a different mindset and a new growth game. ?

This is how I see things. Would you agree?

The male management style, with their hands-on, authoritarian approach, is no longer apt for the latest developments in running successful organisations and apparently as well as a lot more frequently, seems immensely old- fashioned.

June, 2022


“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can`t hear them anymore.”

Michele Ruiz,
CEO of Ruiz Strategies