• 06 Aug 2020
  • SBS-ED
  • 4Min

Women in leadership: 3 important leadership lessons

Women in leadership: 3 important leadership lessons

As world leaders begin to diversify their strategies for approaching COVID-19, interesting commonalities are beginning to show when it comes to successfully flattening the curve. Countries with early and thorough programmes for testing, well-equipped hospitals and medical personnel, and willing citizens who comply with regulations are all important factors that can improve any nation’s statistics. One other common link that is piquing the interest of researchers and academics is empathetic leadership, which is often shining through in countries with women in top government positions.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many women in leadership roles have been lauded for their considered management of the crisis – from Germany’s Angela Merkel’s calm, scientific, systematic approach and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic addresses, to Iceland’s Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s sweet press conference for kids.

While there continues to be a global dearth of  female presidents – fewer than 10% of the 193 United Nation’s member states are led by women in the same year, according to Statista – it’s clear the world is recognising a new kind of leadership as ‘strongmen states’ flail.

An empathetic leadership style is by no means unique to women – it’s something all leaders need to focus on fostering, especially during a crisis when their constituents need reassurance; decisive, rational action and constant communication more than ever.

Here are some lessons to learn from the leaders who are ‘getting it right’ amidst one of the toughest chapters the world has ever gone through.

3 important leadership lessons

1. Get advice

What has become clear over the last few months is that blind over-confidence with little scientific input can backfire on leaders by creating confusion and doubt in their abilities. Suze Wilson, who teaches leadership at Massey University in New Zealand, says the decision-making process can be more collaborative and deliberate for women, which is advantageous. “Research shows women are more willing to listen to advice and include different perspectives and try to weigh them up when making decisions,” Wilson said.

During a global pandemic, now is the time to delegate decision-making, seek other opinions and break down siloes to foster greater collaboration. Seek every resource available to you and present the facts to your people – they want to know you are showing them a well thought-out plan, based on the best possible information.

By creating a well-informed team of advisors to assist you with difficult decisions, you can have access to many points of view at a moment’s notice. This council should comprise people you trust from different levels of the business.

2. Be compassionate

Many female-led countries are being lauded for their approach to boosting morale during a time of restricted movement or lockdown. Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has not been afraid to show a more human side. Frederiksen posted a video of herself and her partner doing the dishes and singing along during a weekly TV lockdown singalong show.

Gone are the days of stuffy, strait laced communications. People are looking for, and need, a little more humanity from their leaders. Try being more approachable to your teams by sharing your own struggles with the world we are now living in.

Be open and honest in your regular conversations within your organisation. By being as transparent as possible, your teams are going to feel more aligned with your message and better connected to your approach.

3. Stand side-by-side

The success of social distancing and self-isolation in each country depends on the willing participation of its citizens. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, knew that to get her citizens to comply with a strict lockdown, they needed to feel unity and responsibility in preventing a major disaster. “We are in this together” was something she regularly said in her more informal briefings done from her living room.

As a new way of life emerges in a post-COVID19 reality, it will change the way we engage in business. An era of conscious consumerism will emerge that will look to support purpose-driven business. Now is the perfect time to reimagine your business manifesto and create sustainability through simple changes.

Try collaborating with your teams to modify and adjust the way your company operates. Working together in this way can give your teams the motivation and purpose they need to support any changes that come.


These is arguably a notable spike in the effective management of COVID-19 in countries with higher gender diversity. It’s clear any leader using emotional intelligence is reaping better rewards. By adding empathy, empowerment, teamwork, and problem solving into your new framework, anyone can lead like a lady.

Consider doing an a course on management to up your emotional intelligence quote and build on your inter and intra-personal relationships. This will be beneficial during COVID-19 and in its aftermath.

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