Leadership Role No Longer Gender Specific

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 07, 2017


It is the personality of a leader that matters more than gender, believes Rakesh Makkar, Executive Vice President and Head – Business, Marketing and CSR, Fullerton India Credit Company Limited and brings with him close to two decades of expertise in establishing new and successful businesses. 

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and one of the most powerful business leaders in the world said and we can truly vouch for that, he said adding that the ascent of women to leadership roles in powerful companies around the world, especially in recent times, has been remarkable. Women currently hold 29 CEO positions among major S&P 500 companies and these are of as diverse as General Motors to Pepsi to Facebook to Lockheed Martin. 

As part of CXOtoday’s special Women in Technology series on the occasion of Women’s Day, Makkar explains why leadership role is no longer gender-specific and the way forward for women in the feild of technology. Excerpt.

Gender does not matter in leadership

Far from the days when women were viewed with an institutional bias, one’s gender is no longer a major factor when it comes to senior corporate leadership positions. Even as the women get judged at par in core skills (such as innovation, decision-making and intelligence), they demonstrate qualities that matter far more in today’s competitive world – more communication, allocation, compassion, being organised and honesty - which help ensure smooth functioning of complex corporations.

A tremendous acceleration in technology, higher diversity among business operations, intense competition and complex organisations along with dynamic internal issues are challenging traditional ways of managing companies. Here, women leaders are being credited as far more determined, ambitious, proactive, displaying diversity and being total team players

A recent cover story by Business Week was more forthright; it attributed the growing stature of women as global corporate leaders to `a global economy that valued mental power over might’ as contemporary women seem natural leaders (with some advantages that men do not possess). Even the management gurus seem to think that the future of business depends on smart women.

Women as transformational leaders

According to a Pew Research study, a woman serves as a model and mentor, often inspiring men and women in an organisation to reduce conflicts at work place. And as the world moves increasingly closer to a transformational leadership style that focuses on ‘empowerment and collaboration’, leadership is becoming a domain more suited to women who exhibit more communication, cooperation, affiliation, and nurturing, thereby gaining trust among colleagues. The significance of transformational leadership is that it allows a leader to make critical changes to a current business model or reinvent without much resistance. 

Individual skill set and capabilities matter

Today’s leaders are judged more for their skills and capabilities in leading an organisation (especially through difficult times) than any other criteria – the least being their gender. And in the highly competitive corporate world, one needs a good measure of hard and soft skills to succeed – in selling a product to a customer to convincing your staff to accept a tough decision - that may be key to survival of a corporation. Here, women have a clear edge. 

Women leaders are credited to be highly focused on completing a task assigned or running day-to-day operations rather smoothly. Also, women prefer or create flat organisational structures that allow for a collegial atmosphere. In another key area, communication, studies say that women allow more latitude in achieving a goal while they are seen more transparent and forthright in their dealings.

A final word…

Though the women are being increasingly acknowledged as having the right combination of skills for leadership, yielding superior leadership styles and outstanding effectiveness, eventually, the performance as a leader would matter than anything else. Here, their natural skills are going to be crucial.