women leadership

What We Can Learn from Women Assuming Leadership Positions

As I’ve previously addressed, women are becoming a greater force in the business world—heading up some of the most powerful companies in the world. Each year, Forbes compiles their list of the most powerful women in the world including a mix of civic, philanthropic, and business leaders. In the top ten from 2018 are five CEOs—General Motor’s Mary Barra, Fidelity Investments’ Abigail Johnson, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki, Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Forbes’ list only continues to grow and strengthen from there with CEOs, chairwomen, and other c-suite roles representing global giants such as Facebook, Apple, and Oracle. A deep-dive into the results of these women in their workplace will show the companies they work for are, in some cases, outperforming their competitors.

There’s growing evidence that having women in positions of power and decision-making are extremely beneficial for the growth of a business. “There are fascinating studies of the different ways in which women and men assess risk and make decisions that reinforce the conclusion that promoting gender equality is just smart business,” says Kate Barton, vice chair of Tax Services for EY Americas. “I’m not suggesting that one is right and one is wrong, but diversity leads to balance, and balance—particularly when considering risk—is healthy business.”

It is the same thing my late father said for so many years: “Hold things in the middle.

In fact, these studies have shown that “companies with the greatest number of women in the c-suite outperform on return on equity and other financial performance metrics,” noting that women on company boards tend to focus more on issues of risk reduction and governance—both of which underpin superior financial results.

A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that there are fundamental differences between men and women in their approaches taken within the workplace. In an article written for CNBC, Ragini Verma, an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shares findings that explain how the brain works differently for men and women.  Essentially evidence supports the notion that men could be wired to take action, generally, while women may tend to be better suited to carefully analyze a problem.

This mix of careful analysis and risk taking is what yields such effective results in the leadership of some of the most powerful companies. A more balanced approach to challenges, innovation, and next-steps regarding a company’s strategy results in greater success overall. Ultimately, the presence of women in leadership positions—including at the highest level as CEO—only benefits a company. Balance is, after all, the key to success.