Lessons in Exemplary Business Communication from Women Leaders

3 min read

March 08, 2023


In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we celebrate all the strong women driving businesses to success. These leaders challenge the status quo and prove that corporate achievement can be equitable and inclusive.


Women represent 32% of senior management worldwide today, up from just 19% in 2004. It’s an encouraging trajectory but far from an equal gender distribution in executive roles. The UN estimates that parity in business will not be achieved for another 140 years.


As women continue to make their presence known in both the business and political worlds, it’s worth looking at their positive impact on the companies and organizations they work for and the employees who work for them. We can also learn something from these leaders, especially regarding communication,


The Advantages of Women Leaders


Women are perceived to be highly competent leaders in every respect, including initiative, development, integrity, and motivation. These are not just personal traits; they encourage these qualities in the teams they lead.


Research shows that organizations with greater gender equity at the leadership level have tangible advantages:


Employee satisfaction


Women are spearheading the transition to a more supportive, inclusive workplace, with these leaders two times as likely as men to spend substantial time on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. They invest more energy into effective people management and allyship, including developing better work-life balance for themselves and their employees. Women supervisors promote their employees’ well-being, including checking in regularly, helping with workloads, and providing mentorship. Woman-to-woman mentorship is critical in establishing a pipeline toward equity in the C-suite.


Resilience


Women in leadership are also associated with crisis resilience in the public and private sectors. Women-led countries had better outcomes during COVID-19, enacting more proactive and coordinated policies in response to the pandemic. This may partly be because women rely more on effectual logic, creatively using their existing resources to succeed. These leaders were flexible and resourceful during and after the pandemic, adapting working styles and tools to the new normal.


Profitability


Women CEOs may only represent a small minority on the Fortune 500 list, but they’re leading their companies to greater profits. Eighty-seven percent of the top 500 companies with a woman decision-maker reported above-average profits in 2021, despite the pandemic and other economic challenges. Adding women to the C-suite increases long-term business value, as well. Two years after instating a woman CEO, companies saw a 20% increase in stock price, while firms with woman CFOs had 6% increased profitability and 8% larger stock returns.


Not only do women make compassionate, empathetic, and inclusive leaders, but having greater gender equality in management makes the entire organization more successful.



Top women in tech share their 2023 predictions >



Communication Lessons from Global Women Leaders


We are fortunate to live in a period where a record number of women hold positions of authority and use their influence to change the world for the better. Here are some communication lessons to be learned from their styles of leadership.


1. Lead with Empathy, Authenticity, and Transparency


When Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 2017, it would have been impossible to predict the challenges she would face. Not only did she demonstrate firm decision-making in response to terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic, but she also communicated the reasons for her choices.


Through press conferences and live streams, Ardern expressed empathy for the people of New Zealand while reinforcing the importance of her government’s actions. In her January 2023 announcement of resignation, she garnered respect for her openness about responsibility and burnout.


Leaders in all industries can look to Ardern as an example of how to lead with strength and humanity. Whether making a company-wide announcement in person or on a video call, expressing empathy and transparency can turn a potentially controversial decision into a unifying call to action.


2. Provide Support and Resources for Mental Health


Karen Lynch is the CEO of CVS Health and one of only 53 women leading a Fortune 500 company. As the head of a major health company during the pandemic, she was especially aware of the toll isolation, and uncertainty had on mental well-being.


Lynch focused on holistic mental wellness, emphasizing that supervisors must speak openly about mental health and provide their employees with support and resources. She highlighted the elevated importance of making connections with remote and hybrid workers and the positive impact of sharing personal stories.


Today’s employees want to work for companies where their mental health is a priority. Starting the conversation around mental wellness can happen anytime, but supervisors must follow through to give their employees the help they need. Creating a team thread for peer support or posting wellness guides in a shared folder can be an excellent start to normalizing conversations about mental health.


3. Success Comes from Cooperation


As the president of the European Central Bank and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde understands the added value woman leaders bring to a male-dominated field. Furthermore, she knows how important it is for women to support each other in their careers.


Unlike Lagarde, most people don’t have the president of the European Commission or other heads of state on speed dial. But every leader can set aside their ego and focus on developing relationships that bring out everybody’s strength.


Lines of communication should be free and easy, so colleagues feel comfortable working together and sharing ideas. Women are more likely to prefer hybrid or remote work, so it’s up to managers to make sure they feel like their voices are heard even if they’re not in person.



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