Everyone seems to be asking what the “new normal”, the world after covid will look like, and who will lead this new world.
As we start to ask who are the ‘new leaders’ of our world, let me share highlights of a high level webinar hosted to review the extraordinary success of female political leaders across the world in managing Covid. The experts looked at the attributes and qualities that led to these successes by three women who led Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan – among other countries – and being held up as role models on how to effectively guide countries through a public health crisis.
• The women leaders who were found to be “more participatory and democratic in their leadership” had more effective approaches
• Their approaches have been effective, the panelists said, because they incorporate empathy and compassion, preparedness and an ability to collaborate and listen before making policy decisions
• They are able to inspire people and be the voice of reason
A collective sense is emerging that the future belongs to leaders with empathy, collaborative mindset and commitment towards a collective good. Is it a coincidence that more of more of such leaders are women?
Is the post Covid world ready to embrace women leaders as drivers of the economy?
For entrepreneurs who are often playing multiple roles in a start-up or SME, right from being the key decision maker to being the face of the brand; the leadership style will direct the future of the business. The entrepreneurs need to be able to make decisions quickly, take action and learn from the results and also be the chief ‘visionary’, anticipate the future, respond to unforeseen circumstances and adapt to change.
IN essence a lot of the success and future of a business relies on entrepreneurial leadership.
Creating the narrative of women entrepreneurs leadership:
While the attributes of a successful entrepreneur have historically focused on masculine sounding traits (ambitious, aggressive, risk-taking and natural born leaders), women have been socialized to be nurturing, selfless and collaborative. And despite women’s gains in business, society still sees the business world in masculine terms. For decades, researchers have been studying female and male management and leadership styles and have explained different factors that come in play.
A number of studies have noted that women have a transformational style of leadership. Transformational leaders establish themselves as role models by gaining followers’ trust and confidence and leading everyone together. F
or this special Women’s Day article, we have brought a panel of exceptionally gifted women who answer questions about women leading the economy and share their tips. Our panel is built up of a diverse and dynamic group of leadership mentors and entrepreneurs. We have two highly accomplished mentors and leadership experts and three creative and special women entrepreneurs who have created unique entrepreneurial ventures built on values of innovation, collaboration and community.
Nathalie is on her life mission to be the accelerant for women who dare to lead with their authentic power and become fearless and bold in their choices and voice. Nathalie is the host of #LeadLoudly Twitter chat! Connect with her on
Co-Founder and Network Leader of Lean In Network, Women@Work in the capital city of India. A feminist, and a gender equality advocate, Ruchi is an accomplished community builder. She works towards empowering women into leadership roles and achieve their ambitions.
Founder & CEO at PhotoPad, Diane is a unique and creative Entrepreneur and an acclaimed Keynote Speaker. A recipient of two nominations for startup of the year and innovative product of the year 2018, and the 2015 Women of the Year.
President of Jikoni Foundation, Ronita is a visionary social entrepreneur. She created a widely successful social enterprise and foundation in the middle of the covid lockdown. She is passionate to bring social transformation through food & nutrition and a champion of grassroots development.
Jikoni Foundation: https://jikonifoundation.com/about/
Director and Marketing Strategist at Collab Function, with a tagline “We Are Growth Catalysts Who Believe in the Power of Collaboration”. A committed social activist and mentor of women and NGO’s, Jaya is currently designing a transformational tech enabled community around sustainability and wellness.
Question 1: Is female leadership the future of businesses? What makes you feel that women leaders will play a significant role in the future?
Nathalie Gregg: There is no new normal. There is only the pre and post pandemic economy, and leadership is at the forefront of sustained success. Leadership is one of the most strategic challenges that we must address. However, if we want it as females we need to build it!
Ruchi Sharma: Yes, female leadership is the future of business. Women leaders bring a diverse set of viewpoints and ideas to the table. Their experiences and learnings will bring a change to the way we evaluate things. Female leaders are empathetic and go forward with empathy and compassion, this should be the core soft skills companies should invest in. They care about their team, their well-being and will take everyone together to find solutions. They listen to new ideas, believe in teamwork and are agile.
Diane Najm: Female leaders are the future of work. Covid catapulted women to use their voices and negotiate better to c-suite positions and many quit the corporate world to start their own businesses because they know they can be successful leaders, have the flexibility needed with family and work life balance, as well as no longer needing to experience inequities in the workplace.
Ronita Ghosh: For decades, women were given the position of nurturing and guardianship and hence, naturally women have become managers. They are able to foresee a lot of things more clearly than anybody else. Women are usually patient with any problem an organization is foreseeing so, I believe they are the future for businesses. As a firm believer of empathetic leadership, I see that Covid has made female leadership more visible to the world. Leadership with conscious is about using what you are born with for the good of the people e.g. in my case converting real kindness in to building an enterprise around food and emotional security, home, food and care offers to the underprivileged.
Jaya Rebello: Women in important leadership roles are definitely going to be the future of businesses. The pandemic has been an eye opener on many fronts. Organizations have begun to realize the importance of having a more gender diverse workplace and more importantly, are beginning to take concrete steps at offering a seat at the table to women in important decision making and leadership positions. I strongly believe that greater gender diversity at the workplace is no longer an option if businesses want to thrive.
There is sufficient data, studies and live examples to prove that women have what it takes to drive success. And more so, in the new world where the focus is on strategic vision and community building where women excel.
Question 2: Do you see women collaborators driving the economy and communities of the future?
Nathalie Gregg: Yes, and for these reasons. Building high performance collaborations will accelerate business goals. Collaborations bring unique advantages such as a well placed collaboration will strengthen your capacity as well as increase your visibility. Robust communities will do the same on a larger scale.
Ruchi Sharma: Absolutely, the world needs more women leaders, Men have been at the forefront for so long and it seems it’s not working anymore. When women work, the economies grow. Women are half of the population- and if they are empowered and offered work opportunities, they are going to shine. When women come together and form communities then anything is possible. Women collaborators are a force to reckon with. They nurture their communities and support/help each other. They provide mentorship/ sponsorship to their communities leading to the growth of the economy.
Diane Najm: Yes. ‘Women Own The Millenium’, womens’ leadership style is more collaborative and inclusive, proven to be the key and drive an increase in the economy. In addition, we are seeing women as CEOs, women startups, women business owners, women in tech and more. This is giving rise to more visibility throughout the ecosystem. The more communities grow with women leading, the more the economy will thrive.
Ronita Ghosh: In the new order of the future, people and organisations need leaders with well defined values and commitment to inclusion, leaders with kindness and who are caring. Every woman has in her this ability to stand as guardian and show her warmth, kindness and inclusion through her work. Women respond well to tough situations, as a natural instinct and we have seen this done successfully in times of Covid.
Our Jikoni Self Help women group has women from rural and underprivileged communities yet I find them united as one in one vision of overcoming hurdles life has thrown at them. Every woman I meet is determined to change the narrative for generations to come whether it is on a macro, micro and nano level which in turn contributes in building a larger economy.
Jaya Rebello: Women are important drivers of economies with the power to shape economic trends. So yes, the financial future truly is female. By virtue of being more empathetic, determined and a leader by example, women have carved a shift already.
Globally women are leading strong and diverse communities and opening doors for other women; Simple women like you and me with an extraordinary zeal to leverage the power of communities. Women globally form a talented, driven and diverse pool of “leaders collaborators”. Each one brings along their own strengths and expertise that can help nurture, mentor, and coach and be there for one and another.
Question 3: What qualities must a woman leader develop to become the leader of tomorrow?
Nathalie Gregg: Courage: Courage is mission critical, especially in these challenging times! Women must embrace their voice, value, and visibility to be successful leaders. We must sit at the table, raise our hands, and negotiate our promotions.
Strength: Learning how to take risks and how to remain confident, especially in a male dominant society. We must learn how to communicate our value while leveraging our voice to accomplish our goals.
Perseverance: Nothing is predictable in this business environment. Women must learn how to thrive in uncertainty while often facing bias.
Tenacity: Legendary leadership requires grit and tenacity in challenging times. A crisis can affect leaders in two different ways. They can crash and burn or rise and soar. The ones who rise and soar will have passion and drive toward the impossible.
Ruchi Sharma: A woman leader must lead with influence not by authority. A woman leader must listen and be open to feedback. They can influence the decisions or opinions of others using facts – logical reasoning, through appeals to their values and beliefs-emotional influence, and through collaborative work where they seek advice from the team and offer them assistance- cooperative influence. Leaders must show integrity and walk along with their team. Women leaders should build trust in their teams and appreciate the effort of every team member. They should motivate others to take a lead and let the spotlight be on them.
Diane Najm: Authenticity, empathy, and vulnerability are critical success factors for aspiring and current leaders. Women will need to use their voices, advocate, and champion and mentor other woman, so to create a larger and more substantial presence and this is a critical key in my opinion.
In addition, play a role model, encouraging women to break through self limiting beliefs and fears or growth and taking opportunities head on. For example, inspire women to apply for senior positions even when they are not 100% qualified. The more women do this, the more they will build the inner and outer confidence needed to lead, inspire and contribute towards building a stronger network.
Ronita Ghosh: Inclusion is one of the most important qualities of a leader in my opinion. It will open you as a communicator and collaborator.
When you include the people at the bottom of the pyramid, the pyramid gets a firmer foundation. It is simple!
A great leadership trait is to ensure that you connect and engage with your community, even the people who may not be able to return benefits to you. A simple action like involving the indirect stakeholders has helped me to receive valuable feedback and find acceptance and support within our community. For me no stakeholder is small as I regularly ask feedback of all hospital attendants on our nutrition kits and packaging and its learning and bonding opportunity.
Inclusion – Inclusion- Inclusion
With conscious leadership and kindness.
Jaya Rebello: “All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.” – Michelle Obama
Women are naturally wired with certain skills and determination, strong intuition, attention to details and empathy top my list.
IN addition, I recommend strong people and inspirational traits, an ability to inspire, motive and be fearless to challenge the status quo.
Question 4: What are your three tips to elevate leadership potential of women entrepreneurs starting out?
• Mentorship: Women need mentors more than ever. Mentorship will strengthen their leadership skills, strengthen self confidence, and improve emotional intelligence while navigating new territories.
• Sponsorship: Sponsors bring their professional network into the equation. Sponsors see the potential in others while providing strategic introductions for career advancement
• Allyship: Allyship is the key to unlocking diversity! They lift others while advocating! Allies listen, support, and drive change
• Network: Build and grow your network, make connections with people and have trust build up in your teams.
• Ask for help: you will find so many exceptional mentors and guides willing to help so reach out.
• Don’t over think and don’t let the fear of failure stop you from going after your goals.
Diane Najm: Networks and mentoring are powerful solutions!
• Women who band together to share stories and solutions, provide mentorship and support, advise, and lift each other up are how we keep the mentor “circle of life” going.
• Championing, promoting, and advocating for women within your organization.
• Provide resources to workshops, books and podcasts that will help form leadership skills.
• Engage with more women at the grass root level
• Make women inclusive forums
• Have women driven strategic conclaves
• Make women leadership not a privilege but an order of the day
• Self belief, a strong conviction and a never give up attitude will certainly help new women entrepreneurs stay focused in their journey towards success
• Speaking from experience, one of the most beautiful qualities is empathy and being considerate. These qualities have such a positive effect on the entire team. It helps to build an environment where team members feel cherished and motivated. It also helps you connect better and inspires the team to give their best.
• Normalise a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout both for self and your teams too