Women as born managers, By Doris Ochei
Doris Ochei, PhD

“Regardless of limited resources, a resourceful woman will always create more with less” – Gift Gugu Mona

I love the fact that the inherent qualities of women, comparatively speaking, make them better managers than their male counterparts. Interestingly, this is not a popular view.

This sentiment about women’s innate abilities, I must reiterate, is not shared by many people. In fact, I can bet that some of our fathers and brothers do not know that women managers are more effective when it comes to engaging and organizing people working with them. Thankfully, this fact is verifiable. And it is also gladdening for me.

But at a personal level, it is heartwarming to know that numerous studies support this reality in many countries of the world, including African countries like Nigeria, Rwanda, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa, among others. As a matter of fact, women’s leadership is noteworthy for its quality and liberalness; and no one can deny the fact that women have made remarkable progress and impact with their influence in different areas of life.

Moreover, the strength of women in the context of management everywhere, is measured by their powerful observation skills. The undisputed truth is that women know what inspires their team. They also know what is required to keep the team going even in very bad conditions. For instance, at workplaces, homes and community level, women are champions of equity and inclusion. Women also listen, and they have another advantage, which is essentially about their high emotional intelligence.

But this does not in any way, question or diminish the natural leadership or headship of men, especially as heads of our respective families. The male gender is also known for strength and courage. And their traditional roles as protectors, breadwinners and guardians of the family unit are unquestionable.

These are inconvertible facts about men, yet how did women win this coveted trophy of effectiveness and managerial skills in a man’s world?

I know that many things work for women when the issues are about leadership and teamwork. Apart from the fact that they are better listeners which has already been established, women also pay undivided attention to anything that tickles their fancy, including their work and teammates.

Two recent research findings, the Gallup Poll and SCIKEY Inquiry, produced some interesting outcomes that are consistent with women’s intrinsic abilities to inspire, influence, impact and enable people contribute their optimum to institutions or organizations. According to the findings, “the Gallup Poll surveyed close to 27 million employees worldwide. It concluded that female bosses often do better than their male counterparts because they are better at driving employee engagement”. On the other hand, SCIKEY’s research affirmed that “women are much better than men at organizational development and coaching talent. Twice as many women professionals (6.56 per cent) excel in aforementioned domains as compared to men (3.26 per cent)”.

These hard facts even date back to many centuries and eras. For instance, in precolonial and colonial Nigeria, women made considerable impact on the political, social, cultural and economic development of Nigeria.
The Aba Women’s Riots of 1929 during British rule was a very successful rebellion by women against direct taxation, the unscrupulous activities of Warrant Chiefs and the imposition of new local courts that did not serve the interest of the people.

But before Aba Women’s Riots, there were many influential women and managers of people and businesses; women who did exploits and lived life on their terms even in a male dominated world. In this group are: Amina, Queen of Zazzau, the fearless warrior, well-known for expanding her territory; Madam Tinubu, the influential Lagos aristocrat and merchant and entrepreneur and Emotan, the powerful Bini trader and one of the heroines of Benin Kingdom, among others. There were also last century’s political figures like Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the famous Nigerian suffragist, politician and educationist; Margaret Ekpo, a human rights activist and social mobilizer and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, a left-wing firebrand who was imprisoned more than a dozen times in the First Republic for fighting for women’s rights and the liberation of the masses.

At the moment, modern women are still breaking through the glass ceilings and setting new records. Okonjo-Iweala, Folorunsho Alakija, Dora Akunyili, Patricia Etteh, Arunma Otteh, Oby Ezekwesili, Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, Nike Davis-Okundaye, Priscilla Kuye, Joe Okei-Odumakin, Ibukun Awosika, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are names that readily come to mind when one thinks of contemporary heroines. These women are not only encouraging generations and stepping up their efforts, they are also bringing education, encouraging young people and stamping out poverty, inequality, disrespect, discrimination and violence against women and children.

On the word stage, and this list is inexhaustible because both the living and the dead are represented, are names like Kamala Harris, Mary Barra, Christine Lagarde, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Markel, Oprah Winfrey, Nadine Gordimer, Tony Morrison, Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto.

The women are here, no doubt. But as we celebrate our managerial acumen and ability to handle and tackle tough business decisions, let us also pause and remember the wonderful men behind our successes. Without these supportive men, I am sure some of us would have hit a dead end. As they say, there is always a woman behind every successful man. But I hasten to add that there is also a man behind every successful woman.

My husband, for instance, is everything to me. He encourages me all the way and celebrates every of my accomplishments. For emphasis, my husband is not just behind me, he is also in front of me in spite of his busy schedule. I know I am speaking the minds of many women who have experienced the goodness of partners who want their spouses to be the best version of themselves.

Be that as it may, women must keep their eyes on the ball as they climb the ladder if they want to keep winning. As women, we know that the odds are stacked against us everywhere we turn, but we must remain resolute and determined as we continue this march towards a better society. From the look of things, there is hope on the horizon. And this is an important motivating factor, not just for women and children, but also for men who work for a society that would value everyone irrespective of gender, tribe, social status, age or religion.

Indeed, there could not have been a better time to be a woman.


Dr. Doris Ochei, a Business Development Coach and Gender Advocate writes from Lagos.

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