Politics is sometimes considered to be a “man’s game”. That must be why despite the fact that women make up more than half of the population they comprise only 20 percent of the US Congress.
The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily share this attitude. England, Pakistan, and India have all had female Prime Ministers in the past. Germany, South Korea, and Bangladesh all currently have female heads of government. In fact, just last week, Taiwan swore in their first female president. With Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, more Americans are hopeful that the U.S. may soon join the list of countries with a female leader. As the elections loom closer, we must consider some of the unique traits of women that make them good political leaders.
According to a report by the Korn Ferry Institute, studies have shown that women outperform men when it comes to applying soft skills, like empathy, that is vital to effective leadership and management. Using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory, researchers collected data from over 55 thousand professionals from 90 different countries and found that women are naturally more effective at using these skills. Using empathy allows women to better recognize the thoughts and feelings of others and respond appropriately, thereby allowing them to lead by influencing the people around them, rather than solely appealing to authority.
Inclusion and Team Work
We’ve all heard about how competitive the world is and how difficult it is to get to the top. It can be especially tempting for women trying to break the glass ceiling in a male-dominated field like politics to climb to the top by “becoming one of the boys”. However, rather than trying to compete with men as one of their own, women leaders would be better served by honing their interpersonal skills to promote inclusion. A study showed that women were naturally inclined to nurture relationships, leading to increased cooperation and teamwork, both skills of which are critical to being a successful leader in the long term.
Compromise and Adaptability
According to a Pew Social Trend report, a considerable majority of Americans believe that gender doesn’t play a role in determining a good leader. Nevertheless, they recognize that women are better at compromise than men. Women have also been found to be better at adapting to changing situations than men. Compromise and adaptability, two skills that come naturally to women are two very important skills to possess, especially in the ever-changing sphere of politics, where situations are always changing and compromise is rarely easy to reach.
In reality, politics doesn’t have to be a “man’s game”. Rather than trying to be like men in a man’s world, women should harness the natural abilities that they possess, which recommend them to leadership positions and enable their success. It is no longer a question as to why women leaders are needed, but what can be done to uncover women’s natural leadership abilities.