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02 June 2022

Female leadership: an asset ?



Audrey Rigonnaud (TBS 2006)
Management & Leadership, IQO

This is the story of a woman who brings us a steaming cup of coffee every morning with a bright smile on her face. The warmth of the coffee! The sweetness of this team moment! She explains to us that following the restructuring of her company, lines were closed, and she got offered this receptionist position. Mission beautifully accomplished! Until the day this woman becomes sick: No more steaming coffee in the morning, no more conviviality in the team… everybody goes back to filling in their Excel documents, heads down on their computers.

This is also the story of a Manager, who is imposed on– herself and her team – face to face working modes in the middle of quarantine, objectives to be achieved by collective forceps… who, when faced with this harsh form of management, decides to become self-employed, for more flexibility and a double job agenda (Manager and mother). This woman quickly develops her own business, organizes her time and collaborates with clients delighted by this partnership. Ironically, her former company contacts her again for subcontracts... 

And it is still the story of a Managing Director, highly invested, at the service of her clients and of her collaborators that she protects at every turn, to whom we always ask for more, as she accepts more with excellent results. Until the day her mental health fails, then her body. An overly invested manager? Invested for the collective, most certainly: Values and skills that she puts to use today in her HR support firm. Don’t be mistaken: these stories can also be about men !

What is it that makes the work of these women not valued in the company, so much so that they seek to leave it?

Our modern western economy has unconsciously developed around the values of growth, competition, territoriality and success through money. Values that have enabled the material development of our societies, phenomenal technological innovation and the sharing of information on a global scale. It is a rich heritage, which has given us much for centuries.

However, today this model is finding its limits in companies. Exclusive economic growth, the quest for profit at all costs, and management based solely on figures have led to a form of dehumanisation of our organisations, whereas our teams are human! Disengagement of employees, boredom or burn-out, resignations or ill-being at work... some signs are beginning to show that women have a role to play.


Some signs are beginning to show that women have a role to play.


What does female leadership offer that is different?

We are certainly living in a period of transition where the male managerial model is gradually giving way to a feminised model. However, it is not just a question of working for parity of women in positions of responsibility, nor is it a question of promoting testosterone-laden female ascensions. (Indispensable then to evolve in a man's world, they have changed mentalities and allowed new generations to impose themselves differently. So thank you to these women!).

Structural change comes from embodying feminine values and an emotionally inclusive mindset. It comes from recognising that female leadership makes a difference to our organisations: the strength of the collective that overcomes crises, the mutual understanding that saves incredible energy, the consensus building that avoids long-term disengagement and the communication that drives innovation and motivation. 


Structural change comes from embodying feminine values


Between us, who has not dreamt of a company in which our ideas are taken into account, in which our skills and personality are differentiating business assets, where we know we are supported in our mistakes as well as in our difficulties, and for which mental health is as valuable as financial health?

So ladies, I invite you to overcome the belief that a woman has no audacity, to stop being a "good student" and to invalidate the cultural prejudices of a "short skirt, high heels" femininity. Gentlemen, I invite you to accept your share of softness and protection of the collective. You are no less men by managing your teams with kindness, vulnerability and empathy.

I invite you all to see that our Cartesian decisions are always accompanied by a dose of emotion and intuition, that we can combine economic results with social well-being and that we can earn money to invest in the elevation of the collective.


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