“The life transitions that women go through make them creative and more adapting to different life scenarios, “says Dr Yasmin Shannan Al Balushi, project manager, Etimad, National Leadership Programme. “Likewise, women are more creative and adapting to different scenarios when crises arise. In addition, women are more communicative than men. In a crisis, women have managed teams and institutions with a better mode of communication, and provided support in solving the problems in far more focused ways,” she adds.
Women across the world in companies often get into what is termed ‘gender double bind’ – when they become aggressive in their work, they are ‘insensitive’, when they exercise empathy, they are ‘indecisive’. Does it bother you?
Yes, to some extent because there are situations where in some men can be very ‘aggressive’ and in some scenarios ‘indecisive’ as well as, but they don’t get labelled for their gender. Women determine their behaviour as leaders according to the situation: when there is a need for being decisive, they tend to be aggressive in taking the decision and when they need to be more of an empathetic leader, they show their empathy and understanding prior to making any decision.
The global pandemic was a sphere in which women leaders showed their mettle. What is this essence of a woman that helps them dismantle the usual narrative and help them veer their companies from disaster to success and beyond?
Women are more committed to their work and once given the responsibility and trust, she goes the extra mile to complete the task. She is more tolerant to stress and able to handle herself and others around her (e.g. her team members). Women during the pandemic have shown more understanding and were more empathetic to their team members and their circumstances.
Many qualities of women come to the fore in a crisis – how do they (or you) transpose this into the work ecosystem?
Women are more creative and adaptable. This is natural in them. Being a woman, the life transitions that women go through make them creative and more adapting to different life scenarios. Likewise, she is more creative and adapting to different scenarios when crises arise. In addition, women are more communicative than men. In a crisis, women have managed teams and institutions with a better mode of communication, and provided support in solving the problems in far more focused ways. She is also better in reading the non-verbal cues than men; this helps her in understanding the context and situations better and hence provide better solutions. And as I said earlier, women are more empathetic towards others, be it a team member, colleagues or even customers. This quality support helps the women gain better insight and understanding of different circumstances and is therefore able to provide various ways of support.
While you may argue that women are at present ruling the world, when will the time come when they will, without a doubt, rule the world?
When women get the trust, opportunity, empowerment and the right ecosystem that supports her to reach there, she will. The current wave of women who are currently proving their capabilities are encouraging others to put more trust and empower more and more women. I am optimistic that the time is not very far, hopefully.
What are the fundamental characteristics that help a woman shine in the corporate world?
Her hard work, dedication, commitment, intelligence (IQ and EQ) and her ability to make decisions.
Dr Yasmin Al Bulushi is the first female dean in the private higher education in the Sultanate. She was the dean of Muscat College and prior to that she was the assistant dean for Academic Support and Students’ Affairs in the College of Banking and Financial Studies, Oman. She is an educationalist who is passionate about making change in people’s life through education. Dr Yasmin, who got her PhD from Leeds University, UK, is currently the project manager for Eitmad, a national project to upskill and empower Omani nationals to middle and top management roles in the private sector. She is also the founder and owner of The Pause Consultancies, which provides consultancies in developing human capacity and enhancing quality systems.