ACCORDING to the Pew Research Center, the number of female leaders in the world has doubled since 2000. Fifteen out of 193 United Nations member countries are led by females.
Two of the world’s highly industrialised nations, England and Germany, are led by females. In the case of Germany, Angela Merkel continues to trounce her political rivals in a once highly chauvinistic society. Even in cases where some societies are culturally and religiously geared towards male authority, women are emerging as preferred candidates in political contests. What could be responsible for this phenomenon?
While every context is different and it is sometimes down to individuals, I would like to humbly suggest that women enjoy the unique leadership quality of empathy that is often less projected by men. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This, I am of the view, is what male leaders can learn from female leaders.
Firstly, researchers have found that women lead differently, they tend to have a distinct approach that is fraught with transformational leadership (Riggio: 2010). Female leaders tend to lead their teams by enhancing motivation, morale and job performance. They guide through inspiration and above all, they combine strength with sensitivity and lead with empathy. That maternal inclination that resides in every female, demonstrates a sense of care and understanding that appeals to followers.
This seems to be undergirded by nature. Neuroscientists have proven that women have higher oxytocin levels than men. This hormone is referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone,’ which makes female leaders seem more personally connected to followers or those whom they solicit for support to ascend to higher offices.
Once the female is up against a male candidate and they are tied on all the requirements for leadership, I am of the opinion that the sense of care that is effortlessly manifested by the female, will give a natural advantage. The masses seem to be gravitating towards this. Understandably, people want persons in authority who can feel their circumstances and realities.
As a consequence, I hereby advance that for the male candidate to succeed in most cases, he must convince the people that he feels their pain and can connect on an emotional level with their struggles. This I believe will always be a major advantage that female candidates enjoy over their male counterparts. Usage of nicknames such as ‘auntie’ for female leaders immediately trigger comfort and affinity, the likes of which automatically resonate with ordinary folk.