“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years.

The main takeaway of Sheryl’s book is to empower women and discuss the topic of gender balance – or imbalance – within the workplace. The increasing prevalence of such discussions has facilitated the greater movement towards supporting gender diversity across all industries.

Throughout my career in recruitment, which includes over a decade within the Process & Chemicals industry, I have had good and bad experiences with both male and female leadership alike. Ultimately, my experiences have been less about their gender, but stems from the vision of the leader at the time.

Both genders often display different management styles and approaches to challenges. Skills and traits that are traditionally associated with women – collaboration, empowerment, empathy, emotional intelligence and trusting their intuition – are absolute assets. Organisations are increasingly recognising the tangible value of these traits in business. What may have once been considered ‘feminine weaknesses’ are now being thought of as strengths for transformation leadership and I believe that women should own that.

From a recruitment perspective, these ‘feminine’ traits have been put into practice. Typically, I have found that women are more likely to underestimate their abilities, whereas men are typically more likely to put themselves forward for roles that they may not be entirely qualified for. This is particularly prevalent as we move further up towards senior level positions.

As we head towards these roles, women would be well served to remember that success is determined by mind-set. Having a network of people who share your passion and want to push you forward can be a huge help. But ultimately, if you want something, you need to go for it. My advice for future leaders would be to be less afraid to ask for help and become the example that you want to be led by.

Ultimately, there is positivity in the contrast between male and female interpersonal skills and personalities. as it helps to widen the pool of perspective. This in turn results in finding the most innovative and well-suited solution with the least implications.

Over the last 11 years of being at Proco, the industry has reached a unique point where women’s voices are increasingly being encouraged and heard. As a leader, your role is to facilitate change and champion others. Times have changed since I started my career in recruitment and we are witnessing the emergence of a new generation.

Organisations are now embarking more frequently on a flatter management style, where collaborative efforts are preferred, rather than the typical top down structure. Our industry is going through a fundamental shift in its approach to leadership and, at Proco, we facilitate this by providing mentors at all levels from the moment you step foot into the company.

What remains fundamental in leadership, however, is the requirement to build trust within your relationships and remain authentic. Diversity is an expansive topic that collectively should encompass everybody. The only way that we can support gender parity is by recognising that there is no barrier or segregation in terms of what a woman can do and what a man can. At the end of the day, we are all defined by our experiences, skills, and backgrounds – not our gender. 

Visit procothinking.com to find out how Proco are celebrating womens achievements. #EachforEqual

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