The pandemic brought, for the vast majority, the need to learn, develop or improve a set of skills and behaviors and put them into practice in record time. The demand for change also included those who previously didn’t even have them on their radar.
Regarding the empathy and sensitivity that often characterizes women, Edgar Medinaceli, Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates and leader of the firm’s Buenos Aires office, considers: "At times like this, where people are stressed or uncertain, trying to adapt to a new world, the female ability to be more alert to each other’s feelings is highly valued. Generally speaking, women have greater and more developed social skills. Above all, a greater ability to empathize."
For Medinaceli, the pandemic situation is a test. "It works as a tester, it’s a natural time for that. Thorough testing shows where a person fails and, also, proves its resistance. It will more clearly show who the good leaders are and what it means to be a good leader." The willingness to learn is one of the typical characteristics of leadership. "In the sense of taking information from reality, comparing it to what they know and changing their behavior accordingly," he explains. This process is also demanded by the businesses, due to the change in consumption habits derived from the new daily routines due to the coronavirus.
In a corporate world with no big tables with pre-assigned places, no separate desks, no differentiated chairs, no signs hanging on the door, leadership also takes on a new dimension. "On the screen, I can’t physically impose myself, shout. It is: ‘I will convince you or I won’t'. The same microphone listens to different points of view without physically imposing the others. Virtuality can play against charismatic leadership, characteristic of many male leaders, "explains Medinaceli.
"Assuming that we are equal always works against the weaker. It is better to be aware that we are different in some respects to play the game. I do not want to refer to a cultural issue because, when something is the same all over the world, it goes beyond that environment. Idiosyncrasy, biology, family composition and regulatory issues are added, to name a few. If one focuses only on culture, how does one change it?" asks Medinaceli and answers: “Regulatorily, yes, it is possible to have an impact." The consultant compares the laws of some Nordic countries on the European continent, such as Sweden, where parental leave exists so that motherhood does not disadvantage women. As it is a benefit that the father can also enjoy, that potential difference disappears. The objective of Swedish gender equality policies is to ensure that women and men enjoy equal opportunities, rights and obligations in all spheres of life, including those of power and influence.