Who is most likely to succeed during a crisis? The female leader.

The glass cliff is the invisible barrier to advancement that women often face as they try to reach the higher levels of an organization. So, the glass cliff is the idea that when the company is in trouble, the female leader comes in for the save. When women finally get the chance to prove themselves in a senior role, they are handed something that is already broken and where the chances of failure are high.

The question needs to be asked, are women in fact more qualified to lead during a crisis?

According to a Pew Research Center report on what makes a good leader, characteristics such as honesty, intelligence, compassion, and innovation rank quite high on the rating scale. When comparing these traits between men and women, women scored higher in most of these categories. 

In addition, Survey results from Harvard Business Review also paint a positive picture for female leaders. Respondents are noting that females lead by using interpersonal skills, inspiration, motivation, creativity, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building.

In times of crisis, women are often found to display integrity, pivot (when necessary), learn new skills, and focus on employee development and empowerment.

What can female leaders do if the glass cliff presents itself?

  1. Step up. Throw your hat in the game and present yourself as the right candidate to turn things around.
  2. Get into action. Ask your peers to make a case for you. Their support can make a difference in the minds of leadership.
  3. Be confident. Fear will just slow you down. Confidence will not only enhance your mindset, but also will show that you have the courage, ability, and skills to lead.
  4. Focus on your competencies. Show that you can rebuild through strategic development, making quick and effective decisions, and pulling together a team that is willing to work toward success.
  5. Lead through change. Change can be nerve racking, however, during a crisis, it’s clearly necessary. Present your road map to upper management to show early on that you can handle the challenge.

Female leaders can, and are, breaking through the glass ceiling.