Two Sides of Loyalty to Women Leaders

Women leaders have some advantages when it comes to earning loyalty from team members and peers.  Many women leaders’ emotional intelligence sets them apart from other leaders.  Heidi Grant Halvorson in her recent book No One Understands And What To Do About It helps us make the connection between women’s emotional intelligence and how a leader is perceived to be trustworthy, an integral part of loyalty.  The passage below provides a glimpse into the research that connects emotional intelligence and workplace loyalty.

The benefits of projecting trustworthiness (and the costs of failing to do so) are enormous, particularly in the workplace. Studies suggest that in order to figure out whether you are trustworthy, others analyze your words and deeds to find the answers to two questions:

  1.  Do you have good intentions toward me—are you a friend or a foe?
  2.  Do you have what it takes to act on those intentions?

 So where do perceivers find the answers to these questions? Decades of research show that they are highly tuned into two particular aspects of your character, right from the get-go—your warmth and your competence. Your warmth—friendliness, loyalty, empathy—is taken as evidence that you have good intentions toward the perceiver. Your competence— intelligence, skill, effectiveness—is evidence that you can act on your intentions if you want to.

 According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, perceptions of warmth and competence account for roughly 90 percent of the variability in whether you are perceived positively or negatively by others. Thus, the importance of learning to project warmth and competence —to come across as a valuable ally—cannot be overstated.

An article published in the August 2017 issue of The Atlantic reports that there may be a risk in generalizing about the emotional intelligence of woman leaders.

To be sure, the women highlighted by The Atlantic are on one side of the emotional intelligence spectrum.  The perceptions that others have about them reflect this extreme position and surely have an impact on how loyal others are to them.

It is very important for all leaders to truly understand how they are perceived by team members.  Knowledge is power.

As a women leader, how are you perceived by others in your workplace?

Women leaders attending our Women – Accelerate! Why Hesitate? leadership development workshop find out exactly, and with statistical confidence, how they are perceived by others.  The information provides crucial information about how others perceive the factors that can make a difference in determining how they are trusted as leaders.

Women attending the workshop take confidence in learning about the perceptions that reinforce the emotional intelligence factors that boost their leadership qualities.  More importantly women leaders work in small groups mentoring each other and together developing action plans to close any “perception gaps” that may be inhibiting their growth as a respected leader.

There are two sides to everything.  With a little effort, the right information and the commitment to grow, you can determine what side you’re on.