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| Written by Veronica Ferguson

Benefits of Women in Leadership and Advice for Future Leaders

As a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, we believe organization that value a diverse workforce and partner with diverse businesses achieve better outcomes. Our clients have told us that the strength, agility, and innovation they see in our products and services continues to draw them to do business with us. For that and more, we can thank the many inspiring women leading M&IW.

Learn more about the key benefits of women in leadership as we explore the unique strengths, ask our women leaders what it means to them, and discover how to empower future leaders.

Benefits of Women in Leadership

Over the years, many studies have uncovered the numerous benefits of having women in leadership positions. While we could write a book on this topic, we dive into some of the top benefits here.

"Being a woman in leadership means leading with an open, authentic heart that creates communities to bring out the best in people." -Angie Duncan Callaway, Sr. Director, Intent Strategy Group

Improved Quality of Life

Jean Johnson, CMP, Chief People Officer, said, “I see being a woman in leadership as a responsibility to lead by example; always maintain the highest standards for your career as well as your family; and find the right balance to be successful at both.”

Many women leaders share Jean’s dedication to a positive work-life balance, which benefits not only those in leadership positions but everyone at the company. Supporting this, a Pew Research Center survey found that an overwhelming 78% of women and 62% of men say having more women in top leadership positions in business would improve the quality of life for all women.

Increased Productivity and Collaboration

Multiple studies have revealed that women leaders inspire greater productivity. In fact, companies led by women outperformed those without women leaders. This is due in part to women’s transformational leadership styles that foster not only improved performance and organizational loyalty but also personal development.

“Being a woman in leadership means leading with an open, authentic heart that creates communities to bring out the best in people,” said Angie Duncan Callaway, CMM, Sr. Director, Intent Strategy Group.

Tina Madden, CPA, CEO, agrees, noting that it is a privilege to be in a position where she can help young leaders grow in their careers. “I have watched so many talented individuals find their niche and thrive,” she said. “It is rewarding to see people truly come into their own and succeed.”

Greater Emotional Intelligence

Forbes reported that women excel at the soft skills required for leadership, including emotional intelligence and communication. Another study by the Pew Research Center found that 80% of people view women as more compassionate leaders. While beneficial to any organization, this is especially impactful in a service-focused industry like meetings and events.

“Our industry is based on intangibles and is emotionally driven,” said Jean. “Compassionate leadership is a strength that helps form meaningful relationships and understand the needs of our customers, team members, and peers.”

"While skills can be taught, it is the right attitude that truly sets the stage for success." -Shauna McNaughton, Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions, M&IW

Advice for the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Good leaders know how to empower the next generation of leaders, but it’s also important for women to advocate for their own futures and set themselves up for success. M&IW’s women leaders shared their top advice for those looking to advance in their careers.

Find the Right Mentor

“Early on as you are developing your leadership style, find a mentor you admire,” said Angie. “This relationship will provide insights and actions to mold you into the leader you want to be and set the foundation for your career. I’ve surrounded myself with a core group of ‘advisors’ that have helped me navigate so many business challenges and have supported my career journey. This group may change over the years, but the relationships will last throughout your journey.”

Set Yourself Up for Growth

“Lead by example, follow your intuition, and don’t undervalue your potential,” said Jill Gallagher, MMP, Vice President, Event Management Services. “Surround yourself with people of diverse and complimentary skillsets. This will allow you to grow at an exponential rate through collaboration and mutual inspiration.”

Have a Resilient Attitude

“I always emphasize the importance of attitude in achieving success,” said Shauna McNaughton, HMCC, Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions. “While skills can be taught—how to excel in one’s job, how to lead effectively—it is the right attitude that truly sets the stage for success. I firmly believe that having the right mindset is vital.”

She continued, “A few years back, when dealing with a challenging situation of my own, my manager advised me to ‘put on my girl pants and move forward.’ It might have caused a chuckle, but the message rings true. If you are dealing with a tough situation, it’s crucial not to let others undermine your worth or capabilities. Instead, find the inner strength and resilience to persevere and keep doing great work.”

“Stay in the ring,” agreed Tracy Norum, CMP, CITP, CIS, Sr. Director, Incentives & Engagement. “You may have to get back up and dust yourself off, but stay in the ring.”

"Limiting beliefs are the only thing that will hold you up, so be confident and sure of yourself and your skills." -Tina Madden, CEO, M&IW

Be Authentic

“Be authentic and kind,” said Vicki Walsh, HMCC, Sr. Director, Event Sourcing. “Never pretend to be who you’re not because leaders are incredibly impactful, and being a woman in leadership is truly consequential. It gives a profound sense of purpose and the desire to be the best that I can be.”

Believe in Yourself

Finally, one of the most important things to remember: Always believe in yourself!

“Limiting beliefs are the only thing that will hold you up, so be confident and sure of yourself and your skills,” said Tina. “Flip your limiting beliefs upside down on their head!”

How to Empower Women Leaders

According to the American Psychological Association, there are four key ways to help advance more women into leadership:

  1. Identify potential leaders early. Women should be given opportunities to develop the skills and experiences necessary to become top leaders in the future.
  2. Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs. Mentors provide beneficial guidance, support, and knowledge while sponsors actively advocate for women when promotions or other beneficial opportunities are available.
  3. Support women in joining women-led professional organizations. By joining professional organizations, women can network and improve their leadership abilities so they’re ready to rise to the occasion when the right opportunity is available.
  4. Focus on allyship. Women should support each other, but men should also speak up and act to support women.

With the right support and resources, there’s no limit to what women can accomplish in any organization.