Women are needed in leadership post-pandemic.
This is the takeaway from numerous studies conducted over the last year. American Pyschological Association (APA) PsycNet and Harvard Business Review both asked who leads better in crisis, men or women, and then went out and found the answer.
Women won by a landslide.
How the pandemic changed the requirements for leadership
COVID-19 demanded more from leaders. It required the ability to adjust to social distancing and teams working from home. It demanded an understanding that work and family life had suddenly merged with children often doing school in the same rooms where their parents attended board meetings. It asked the leaders to care more deeply for the physical and emotional well-being of the employee.
Companies required a new set of skills from leaders to survive and thrive.
Leaders had to find new ways to build connections and motivate individuals toward a common goal. If they weren’t already, they had to listen with an empathetic ear to the challenges faced by each employee in their care. They managed workflows and scattered team members who needed direction on how to go from in-person to remote work.
These women leaders created environments in the middle of chaos and crisis that lifted each team member up while inspiring and supporting them where needed. They created employees who were excited to work for their companies and felt valued and encouraged.
Tip: Learn Lead Lift, How to Think, Act and Inspire Your Way to Greatness is a great resource for anyone who wants improve their empathy and strength as a leader.
It’s not surprising that women took to these new challenges more readily. In some instances, the ability of women leaders translated to more lives saved.
APA’s study found the states with women governors had fewer deaths than states with men governors. Communication played a crucial role in this as the women politicians expressed more empathy and confidence in their public briefings than the men.
Why post-pandemic recovery requires female leadership
Communication skills have always been at the top of the list of leadership traits, but they are more critical than ever. Pre-pandemic knowing how to speak publicly and harnessing the power of body language were key aspects. Now, learning how to use the written word to create inspiring content and clear day-to-day communication is just as vital.
Women stand out in their ability to communicate, be compassionate, agile, and seek out compromise for the common good. All of which was made apparent throughout the pandemic.
Now, as we move forward towards recovery, these same women can not be pushed to the sidelines. The women leaders who rose to the occasion to lead us through the chaos of 2020 are the same ones who can help us move forward.
Companies that have women CEOs benefit from the female perspective. In 2018 Deloitte Review highlighted the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workplace. Still, it took the pandemic of 2020 to see just how vital women leaders are to company sustainability and ingenuity.
New ideas come from diverse ways of seeing things, but before a board room can benefit, diversity has to be invited to stay.
Will history repeat with women leaders being pushed to the side
During World War II, women had to step into a number of jobs while the men were away at war. The truth is those men would not have been successful if the women at home had not stepped into the roles of mechanics, truck drivers, factory workers, and even put on the US military uniform to work as clerks and nurses.
The sad truth is that when the men returned, the women were sent back to the household chores. They had proven themselves capable and were sidelined when the men returned.
While some women were able to step more fully into the natural fit of leader in 2020, others saw their careers disappear. This was in part due to the gender pay gap where families had to make the hard decision of who would continue working and who would focus on the children’s schooling .
But as schools and businesses reopen, will this cycle continue?
If we truly want a strong recovery post-pandemic, then we must place women in leadership roles. It’s better for our workforce, our economy, and our government.