Elevate the System: Women Leaders Changing the World With Heart & Grit

CCL Event: Women Leaders Changing the World

Date: June 2024

A Preview of Our Forthcoming New Research Report on Women Leaders

Over the last 50 years, female leaders have tended to be associated with “heart,” while male leaders have been associated with “grit,” causing many women in the modern era to try adopting male characteristics in order to be perceived as successful. 

Fortunately, some of the gender stereotypes are now changing, which will help to widen the pool of leaders that the world desperately needs — leaders who can take on humanity’s biggest challenges — more women and more men at all levels who can strike the right balance between heart and grit.

Research Findings in 3 Key Areas

CCL APAC has spearheaded new women’s leadership research, which will be released in June 2024. In this latest research, spanning across 5 countries, we’re exploring a few of the dynamics that can help or hinder female leaders, with a focus on these 3 areas:

1. Are gaps in perception closing or getting bigger?

In 2020, we conducted a study to understand differences in perception of male and female leaders in Asia. The study revealed notable gaps in areas such as pay and equal opportunity in the workplace. Among the survey responses, 59% of men but only 37% of women reported that men and women have equal opportunity in the workplace — a 22% gap.

In order to “mind the gap” and then take action, we need to first raise awareness that these significant gaps in perception still exist. The early findings of our new report show that the gap continues to be at similar levels, contributing to women leaders’ experience of psychological and systemic challenges in their career growth.

2. How is the rise of dual-career households shaping today’s leadership dynamics?

An emerging global trend, particularly evident in Asia, is the prevalence of dual-career households, where both partners are in full-time employment. The shift has also led to a growing inclination among women to adopt a “double-flex” approach.

Women leaders are expected to embody qualities like care and empathy, contrasting with leadership preferences for assertiveness and decisiveness. This divergence, termed the “double flex” or “superwoman syndrome,” could lead to burnout and forced exits.

To address this challenge, reframing the conversation is crucial, focusing on the skills essential for female leaders especially in dual-career households:

  1. Self-Awareness: This helps define their identities amid dual responsibilities.
  2. Communication & Influencing Skills: Building partnerships to lead at work and home effectively.
  3. Learning Agility: Cultivating confidence to handle diverse tasks and situations, fostering a sense of control for decision-making.

By integrating these skills into discussions, we could help rectify the misalignment and better align leadership expectations with the evolving dynamics of dual-career households, fostering a more forward-thinking mindset.

3. Are female leadership “superpowers” helping women get ahead, or getting in their way?

Organizational citizenship describes employees’ willingness to go that extra mile at work, helping their company organization and team beyond their outlined duties, even though if such actions are not explicitly required.

Research suggests that some common strengths exhibited by women in leadership roles include championing positive change, fostering collaboration, and contributing to long-term organizational success — all good organizational citizenship behaviors. As a result, the expectations for women to display such behaviors are higher, and women may actually face costs for displaying these helping behaviors, as they’re generally not rewarded, but often taken for granted or overlooked.

The question remains: If women more than men are expected to, and actually do, more of citizenship behaviors, do women and men reap the same benefits of citizenship behaviors?

Learn More About Elevating the System to Advance & Support Women Leaders

To find out more and for our latest research-based insights on what it will take to elevate the system in ways that will help more women step into senior leadership roles and men also move into balancing grit and heart, join us for the research launch coming in June 2024.

Get Notified of Our Report Release

Yes, please follow up with me when Elevate the System: Women Leaders Changing the World With Heart & Grit is released, to invite me to the virtual event sharing findings and / or send me a copy of the research.

About the Research Team

Headshot of Elisa Mallis, VP of CCL APAC

Elisa Mallis, MA, MEd
Vice President & Managing Director, APAC

Elisa leads our efforts in SE Asia, India, North Asia, and Australia to accelerate the leadership development and results of clients throughout the APAC region, from multi-national corporations and government agencies to domestic organizations, while also contributing significantly to our global research agenda. She has 20+ years of experience, focused on transformational change, human capital strategy, and sales and marketing.

Anand Chandrasekar

Anand Chandrasekar, PhD
Senior Research Faculty, APAC

Anand leads our Asia-focused leadership development research and evaluation practice, partnering with CCL staff and clients to identify leadership needs, design and deliver leadership development solutions, articulate leadership solution outcomes, and evaluate the solutions for impact and improvement. He’s passionate about creating access to early leadership development to improve lives and create lasting change.

Vandana Vishnu

Vandana Vishnu
Faculty & Director of Coaching, APAC

Vandana leads our coaching talent for the Asia Pacific region, maintaining the quality of coaching engagements for our clients and working closely with 120+ coaches. She’s a leadership facilitator and coach with 22 years of experience. She is deeply committed to developing inclusive leadership processes in organizations to positively influence the business outcomes and development of human potential in the workplace.

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