Women Are Upgrading the Leadership Rules

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"Leadership is an action, not a position." Donald McGannon

If you check the Oxford Dictionary, leadership is defined as "the action of leading a group of people or an organization." Makes it sound so simple, doesn't it? But anyone who's been in a leadership position knows there's nothing simple about it. There's always something to learn in order to lead effectively.

Today's women are re-defining traditional leadership tactics to come less from facts and figures and more from a heart-centered approach. This is a new paradigm of feminine leadership--and it works.

A New Paradigm

Fortune.com writer Geoff Colvin describes a changing business world that requires a leadership model "in which leaders must influence a wide range of groups over which they have no direct authority, while those groups typically command much power of their own through their access to information and their ability to communicate with practically anyone."

"Extensive research shows how women are better suited to this kind of leadership," says Colvin because women are better at personal interaction. Women can sense the thoughts and feelings of others and respond appropriately. They know they won't be effective by giving orders but through the connections they make.

Heart Before Head

A "typical" leadership style stresses the use of metrics in making decisions about your organization. That's certainly a valid method but by no means the only method. Another option is to lead with your heart, using your mind to guide your strategy and your metrics as a decision-making filter to back-up your intuition.

On her site LeadershipWithSass.com, leadership consultant Linda Sasser describes how women can successfully lead with their hearts and then their heads. "Leading with your heart is about care and connection," says Sasser. "Leading with your head is about competence and knowledge." The key is to know when to use each one in various situations, according to Sasser, and women have this talent.

Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at Stanford University, believes that the power of emotion is critical in decision-making, explaining that our brains first evaluate the options through empirical evidence, but then turn to emotions as a guide to make sound decisions.

Whole-Self Leadership

When your heart's centered, you're making decisions with your whole authentic self. Your mind and your heart are working together, but you're allowing metrics to be the filter through which you can understand, "Yes. This is the decision I need to make so that I can get to where I want to be in playing big."

"Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical, and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed... Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection." - Sheryl Sandberg

This new definition of feminine leadership is an upgrade to the leadership rules of the past. Today's feminine leadership rules incorporate a holistic approach that focuses on what matters most.