Female Leaders during a Global Crisis
Understanding the transitions & challenges of senior women leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic
During the COVID-19 crisis there have been stories of how although women have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic in terms of deepening inequalities, they have played a critical role in recovering from it. We have experienced powerful lessons as female leadership styles using collaboration, empathy, and humility have emerged in coordinating effective responses to the pandemic in political, corporate, public sector, and other contexts. Employees are now placing greater importance on relational skills and emphasizing abilities to ‘inspire’ and ‘engage’, ‘build trust’ and ‘collaborate’. They are also valuing female leaders for their awareness of stress and frustration, Executive Summary concern for wellbeing, and emphasis on development, even when times are tough. The abilities and achievements of women during this challenging time may also inspire us to imagine a new vision of what strong leadership looks like, and how gender balance and equity in our organizations can be realized. Learning from leaders during a crisis can help us build back better for the future.
This report by Dr Debbie Bayntun-Lees and Dr Carina Paine Schofield describes the experiences of senior women leaders over the past 18 months, and the important challenges they feel they are facing going forward. The findings of this research highlight how these women exhibited a relational leadership style during the COVID-19 crisis. Demonstrations of empathy, adaptability, accountability, and inclusion were embedded in their narratives. It is important to highlight how aware these female leaders were of how the pandemic demanded they amplify and access their feminine qualities and skills to achieve their many successes during this time. The findings from this research highlight some of the key factors that can be used to develop and support female leadership in organizations and retain women in leadership positions.