How Women’s Leadership in Sport is Paving the Way for Leadership in Business

With England’s Lionesses bringing it home at the Euros in July, women in leadership roles in sports are finally having their moment in the spotlight. None more than England’s team manager Sarina Wiegman. Her vision led the team to a triumphant win with an unmatched flair for leadership. However, as Cecelia Townes writes for Forbes, “This shine isn’t just about glorifying women leaders just because but about diversifying the faces of leadership in sports for the overall improvement of the industry.” Wiegman’s strength is paving the way for a new approach to leadership.

In such a vastly under-represented industry as sport, women in leadership positions are hard to come by. As the adage goes, “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it”. Yet it’s not simply about stepping into the male archetype for leadership, but evolving the role of leadership and the shape of the industries within which we lead. As Team USA coach, Jill Ellis, has proven, focusing on feminine leadership qualities like compassion and collaboration can change the game. The English-American football coach led the team to a nearly 90% win ratio, and now holds the position of development director of the United States Soccer Federation. Speaking on the ‘Finding Mastery Podcast’, Ellis said of her leadership: “I think players ultimately want two things. I think they want to feel valued and [there] has to be a sense of trust between them, right?”

With only 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs being women, there is still a lot of work to be done when thinking about gender roles in the workplace and the balance of men and women in leadership roles. A study by French Business School NEOMA shows that businesses that hold women in senior roles perform better. Germany’s landmark ruling that listed companies must have at least one woman on their boards has started to show real progress when it comes to women’s leadership opportunities.

The dynamics of females in leadership has proven to be beneficial over the years, with women more likely to be encouraging of transformation in the workplace as discussed by Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, Alice H. Eagly. Her review highlights the importance of transformational leaders when it comes to influencing and inspiring employees.

Perhaps due to the rise of mental health awareness and an understanding that supporting staff yields greater results, qualities such as empathy and encouragement are far more attractive to employees and shareholders alike.

When it comes down to it, feminine leadership centralises itself around relationships. We all want our workplaces to feel safe, and one of the most important elements of leadership is the ability to nurture our teams and get the best from them. Fostering a culture of support and normalising emotions, will lead to your people feeling valued and will drive positive change. Something that is always best for business.

With Weigman’s success a clear reminder of women’s capabilities in leadership, her achievements will likely pave the way for other women aspiring to become the next great leaders of tomorrow, whether it be on the pitch or in the boardroom.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate and further foster and develop feminine qualities withing your leadership, reach out to us to find out about our leadership development programs. We can show you how we can help nurture your people to lead great teams using an ‘outside the box’ mentality, paving the way for a stronger, more successful business.

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