Harnessing the quiet powers of female leadership

KaLing Ng
By KaLing Ng | 8 March 2024
KaLing Ng.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, CX Lavender’s KaLing Ng breaks down the traits that make women such uniquely exceptional leaders.

It’s no secret that in Australia’s media and advertising industry, leadership roles tend to be dominated by men. The MFA Industry Census shows that while 62% of all media agency employees are women, only 47% of management roles are held by women. We don’t have a comparable figure for creative agencies, but we know from the ACA’s Create Space Census that 1 in 4 female middle managers versus 1 in 10 male middle managers said they were likely to leave the industry based on their experience of discrimination and lack of inclusion.

Multitude studies have shown that having women in leadership roles increases productivity, enhances collaboration, inspires wholescale organisation dedication and loyalty, and is just plain good for business across any metric you can think of.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the great fortune of working with and for some brilliant women in leadership roles. Through close observation, I’ve grown to understand their decision-making processes, the dynamics and subtleties of their personality and style, and other special qualities women possess and apply to the way they lead and motivate their teams.

This has helped me in my own journey as I evolve my leadership style, and I’ve boiled it down to three underrated traits which I aim to emulate. I think of these as the quiet powers of female leadership.

Raise by raising others
Exceptional female leaders lift their colleagues and team up with them as they rise to the top. They do so by fostering the teams’ wellbeing and unlocking the potential of each individual and of the group combined, instead of viewing leadership as a self-interested career destination to arrive at by stepping over and around people.

It’s a leadership style of servitude and having served under a number of different leaders, I’ve seen first-hand that there is nothing more motivating and loyalty-inducing than fully trusting your leader’s singular purpose is to make others around her better.

Recognise competence above confidence
So often we’re told to exhibit typically male-associated qualities in order to progress in the workplace – qualities such as assertiveness, boldness or confidence. But multiple studies have shown that in fact the more “soft” feminine qualities of kindness, empathy and genuine care can be more effective in leading teams productively.

And being confident doesn’t necessarily mean being good at something. But surely with true competence comes confidence, whether quiet or loud.

Have a heightened sense of awareness.

Many of the women I look up to have this secret power of spotting the finer details that may be overlooked by others, and it goes beyond a keen eye and memory for detail.

It’s this circular vision that allows women in leadership roles to be more thoroughly analytical and make informed decisions.

That combined with the ability to establish meaningful connections with the people around them, makes for a rich environment to exchange ideas, share different perspectives and ultimately identify unique and effective solutions to complex problems.

So perhaps future-me will come close to mastering these skills, but for now I continue to be a work-in-progress and am thankful to the women leaders who’ve inspired me and will continue to do so.

KaLing Ng is
Joint Client Services Director at CX Lavender


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