World Needs Women Leaders

The world needs women leaders for a plethora of behavioral, temperamental and skill-oriented reasons. Many believe that women do not have the knack for being leaders. While it can be true that women are generally more softhearted than men, women have more grit than normally accredited. Women have a more comprehensive set of skills and qualities, not only those stereotypically described as feminine but also qualities commonly ascribed to men.

The world is shifting toward a more inclusive conception on what qualities a leader should possess. Women have a lot to lose if they fail, and today’s women leaders are taking on the challenge to prove to the world that women are more than qualified to lead the world to prosperity.

Eight Reasons the World Needs Women Leaders

1. Women are more effective.

A study created by the Zenger Folkman firm that examined women’s leadership effectiveness shows that women are perceived as more effective leaders than their male counterparts.

However, the effectiveness of males and females varies by age. Men are perceived as more effective leaders until around the age of 36 to 40. After 40, women become increasingly more effective than men until the age of 60. Women develop their effectiveness over time by learning from others.

2. Women ask for feedback.

The same study further examined the possible explanations for women’s increase in leadership effectiveness by measuring a variety of competencies in the workplace. One of the categories with the most drastic difference between men and women was the “Practicing Self-Development” category.

Women outperformed men in self-development. All people, when initially entering a job, ask questions in order to learn and improve; however, as time goes on, people begin to feel more confident and feel less inclined to ask questions.

Women, on the other hand, continue to ask questions and look for feedback in hopes of always improving. At the age of 40, women continue to persistently ask for feedback while the tendency for men to ask for feedback continues to diminish.

3. Women are held to higher standards.

Many women profess that the reason why they constantly ask for feedback is due to the fact that women feel they have to work harder than men do to prove themselves. Especially in countries that are impoverished, women have fewer opportunities to become leaders; and therefore, there is more pressure for them to do well, not only for themselves, but for all women.

If a woman makes a mistake, it gives more reason for people to doubt women in general. Women leaders rise up to the challenge and face the world’s skepticism head-on. Because there is no room for error, women have to work harder and more strategically than men.

4. Women have empathy.

Leadership is based on interpersonal relationships, and having a respectful, mutual relationship with one’s companions and patrons is an essential tool for a successful leader. Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye says that today’s society has entered a new era in which people best respond to a type of leadership he calls “cool power.”

Women are more inclined to practice this type of leadership rather than one that is more authoritative, thus, making women more effective at influencing others. Empathy also entails understanding different viewpoints and being open-minded. This allows for exchanging of ideas, and ultimately, arriving at the most effective solution to a problem.

5. Women take initiative.

While women do possess some nurturing traits, a rather non-feminine characteristic to describe a woman is actually the category in which women outrank men by the greatest quantity. The Zenger Folkman study shows that women leaders are more effective at taking initiative.

6. As they move up the ladder, women are perceived more positively.

Senior executives and boards of directors more commonly put men in higher-ranked positions because they are uncertain whether or not a woman can perform optimally. However, the Zenger Folkman study shows that as a woman moves up in rank, she is more positively perceived by her fellow co-workers.

7. Women know how to navigate through a crisis.

Women possess leadership characteristics that are most appealing after a crisis. These include people-development, ability to provide clear expectations and rewards, skill in serving as a role model, knack for providing inspiration, and participative decision making.

8. Women bring changes in policy.

Because women experience issues differently than men, women leaders can bring insight and unique perspectives to the table when discussing policy changes. Having women at the table discussing issues not only allows for changes in policy, but it also helps bring awareness to issues that affect women more than men.

Women continue to face contenders who doubt their capabilities, but as more women put their foot in the door and continue to surprise the world with their talents, the world of politics can evolve into a much more open-minded and friendly field of inquiry. Women are taking the world by storm by demanding fairness and equal opportunity.

Whether the globe wants to admit it or not, the world needs women leaders. The unique set of characteristics women possess does not hinder their ability to become great leaders; it further contributes to their success.

Women leaders today have the status and the opportunity to make known the qualities women possess while also making it more accessible for other women to attain a higher status in society and in the job market.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

In global relations, a states ability to influence others is inextricably hinged upon power. How a given state chooses to exert this power is conditional upon two characteristics: what type of power it may posses, whether it be military, economic, or diplomatic; what their desired outcome may be. Historically, the most visible type of power is hard, or military, power. Without dispute, hard power, as a show of force, certainly plays a role in coercing states actions. Objectively, however, adequate influence relies on not only the stick, but also the carrot.

In the simplest of terms, directing action, whether it is of an animal or a state, is often far more effectual when sought through rewards rather than punishment. If you wish to train a puppy to sit, you will find far more success with treats rather than with punishment. States aren’t much different.

The one principal to bear in mind is the fact that, no matter what, a state will always act in its own interest. This is why the United States arms both the Israeli army as well as the Saudi Arabian army. At its core, a states decision to act in any meaningful way is conditional upon the whims of its leaders. Influencing these leaders is the key to achieving a desired outcome.

In a recent article, I discussed what it meant to be a failed state. While political scientists have yet to develop a concrete definition of a failed state, most agree that falling below the Montevideo criteria indicates an inability to function as a state, resulting in questions of the leaders legitimacy. Of these criteria, the most critical to is the states ability to provide for its population. For a powerful nation such as the United States, aiding in the development and legitimacy of a far off state works wonders in influencing a course of action.

Political scientist Joseph Nye coined this aid, or soft power as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion.” While this term may be new for many, the core ideal of which it represents is certainly nothing new. Foreign aid, to name one, is the most powerful form of soft power. In a recent press release, the United States State Department, has justified this aid “The FY2014 budget request of $47.8 billion supports U.S. engagement in over 180 countries, and provides the people and programs necessary to protect U.S. interests, promote peace and ensure America’s leadership in the world.

While this request amounts to less than 1% of the FY2014 budget, the diplomacy leverage it affords us is invaluable. In fact, the first line of diplomatic defense when a state goes rogue, is to sanction, or cut off, this aid.

Over the course of the passed decade, the merits of soft power have proven so effectual that certain aspects have been absorbed into the military. As part of General McChrystals counterinsurgency plan (COIN), along with partnering with Afghan leaders, is to leverage economic initiatives. Through helping build up communities, it is hoped that the United States and allied forces will discourage destruction and extremism. Moreover, through building schools and hospitals, the plan aimed to win the hearts and minds of the populace, effectively dislodging the seeds of extremism.

Through foreign aid and other aspects of soft power, we have seen global development enter an era of increasing promise. Through such programs, previously underdeveloped countries are coming online and, subsequently, poverty rates continue to drop. While military preeminence and the doctrine of second-strike capability played an ominous role in keeping war at bay in the past, it seems that for further development, it must become nothing more than a relic of the past.

 – Thomas van der List
Sources: UCLA International,