Women make better leaders despite lack of representation, study finds

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It's easy for an alpha female to bear the negative label of "intimidating." The line between being respected as someone who stands up for her beliefs and being called a bitch is so fine you can't even walk it in a stiletto. However, women have natural advantages when it comes to leadership, and in many ways, outperform men.

In 2012, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman looked at over 7,000 360-degree performance reviews, which revealed female leaders outranked male leaders in nearly every one of 16 leadership competencies.Yet men are more likely to occupy C-suite positions. A study conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Management found that women still struggle to be placed in leadership positions. "We found showing sensitivity and concern for others — stereotypically feminine traits — made someone less likely to be seen as a leader," Emily Grijalva, who was on the research team, said. "However, it's those same characteristics that make leaders effective. Thus, because of this unconscious bias against communal traits, organizations may unintentionally select the wrong people for leadership roles, choosing individuals who are loud and confident but lack the ability to support their followers' development and success."


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Research confirms what any woman who's ever tried to take charge has already experienced. Being an alpha female sucks. If you adopt traditionally male leadership qualities, you're labeled as "difficult." On the other hand, if you possess more feminine traits, you're perceived as "weak," even though you might be more effective.

The traits that make an alpha female a successful leader should be celebrated because those are the traits that ultimately help female leaders to perform better. Alpha females are better at owning who they are. Historian Professor Joanna Bourk told The Guardian, "If [alpha females] were confrontational, it was not for its own sake, but to say: 'This is what I am.' They acknowledge their own complexities. Alpha males do not go down that route."

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Alpha females are also better at fostering a sense of community without abandoning their own sense of leadership and aren't driven by insecurity or fear. They know that they don't gain anything by dragging down someone else. Men might be intimidated by strong women, but an alpha female is supportive of other strong women. In other words, the alpha female isn't a lone wolf — she runs with a pack. But most of all, an alpha female should embrace all the wonderful traits that make her an alpha, labels be damned. Why settle for anything less?

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