Posted by: katieschu | December 6, 2012

7 Characteristics of Women Leaders

7 Characteristics of Women Leaders

I’ve told my parents a lot about this class.  My dad saw this and thought it might be interesting to share!


The article is basically about how companies are moving towards needing leaders comfortable being in the center rather than at the top.  They’re looking for collaborative characteristics and authenticity in leaders, rather than authoritative behaviors and positional power.  


The author, Sally Helgesen, has studied female leadership for two decades and has worked to compile a list of seven characteristics that are usually found in successful female leaders.

Here’s what she found:

1) they place a high value on relationships and judge the success of their organizations based on the quality of relationships within them;

2) they prefer direct communication;

3) they are comfortable with diversity, having been outsiders themselves and knowing what kind of value fresh eyes could bring;

4) they are unwilling (and unable) to compartmentalize their lives and so draw upon personal experience to bring private sphere information and insights to their jobs;

5) they are skeptical of hierarchies and surprisingly disdainful of the perks and privileges that distinguish hierarchical leaders and establish their place in the pecking order;

6) they preferred leading from the center rather than the top and structure their organizations to reflect this; and

7) they ask big-picture questions about the work they do and its value.


Anyways, it’s an interesting article.  She has some intriguing insights on the common assumption that masculine type behavior is what is wanted in leadership roles.  She says instead, these qualities of female leaders are now highly desirable for organizations.


  1. This list seems like a whole bunch of generalizations that aren’t very specific to leadership, but more on behaviors of women. Although some of these do correlate with our readings, but what I wanted to ask is why we are seeing such a staunch change between the masculine leadership role and now this “need” for more feminine leadership? Is there a new atmosphere surrounding business and commerce that has changed so much that the typical leadership vision is now undesirable? Or has it been that the environment hasn’t changed but the desire or need has and now wants more of a relational leadership? Also, do you feel that the research on leadership has led to this change? I’ve thought this for a while, but since the topic of leadership is still relatively young it might be a bit of a stretch, has the awareness of leadership led to a change in leadership styles and preferences? We’ve seen these women in newer organizations and companies, but not a lot in older more rigid corporations. Do these two have a connection?

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