It’s Only Natural that Women Leaders are More Effective!

Beth Speak

The research we conducted to guide our development activities for our Women – Accelerate! Why Hesitate? leadership development program, proved to us that women have certain advantages that enable them to be strong, effective leaders.  I see the advantages in action as I watch and listen to scores of women share stories and mentor in small-group learning activities during our workshops.

After recently reading a very informative article1 about women’s brains, I am more convinced than ever that women have certain natural abilities that enable them to be very effective leaders.  I was also reminded that women leaders must be sensitive to the natural urge to hesitate to act based upon their past experiences.

Here are three things that caught my attention.

Women Leaders Make Effective Use of Their Time

“[Female brains utilize nearly ten times more white matter.]  This profound brain-processing difference is probably one reason you may have noticed that girls tend to more quickly transition between tasks than boys do. The gray-white matter difference may explain why, in adulthood, females are great multi-taskers, while men excel in highly task-focused projects.”

And aren’t we glad we have this abundance of white matter – I don’t know of any woman who doesn’t need to multi-task to get everything that they have to do done!

Women Leaders Are More Empathetic

“ … females tend to have verbal centers on both sides of the brain, while males tend to have verbal centers on only the left hemisphere. This is a significant difference. Girls tend to use more words when discussing or describing incidence, story, person, object, feeling, or place. …. When it comes to discussing feelings and emotions and senses together, girls tend to have an advantage, and they tend to have more interest in talking about these things.”

Let’s stay focused on the empathy part but watch our tendency to use too many words and avoid reinforcing a common stereotype about women!

 Women Leaders May Naturally Hesitate

“The female brain, in part thanks to far more natural blood flow throughout the brain at any given moment (more white matter processing), and because of a higher degree of blood flow in a concentration part of the brain called the cingulate gyrus, will often ruminate on and revisit emotional memories more than the male brain.”

Okay, so I guess there’s a natural reason why we might hesitate, but we can work to overcome the tendency by being clear in who we are and continuing to build our confidence in our many strengths and advantages!