What Women Leaders Bring to Organizations

Let’s develop women’s leadership capacity, welcome these gifts and trust that when they are embraced alongside the gifts men bring, the Spirit will light the way in these dark times for our Church

Celia Viggo Wexler:  “We are losing the women who think.  And they’re not coming back.”[i]

I read that quote and cringed.  I don’t want to believe that’s true, but alas, when it comes to the Church, my experience says it is.  What I’d like to explore here is what’s being lost, and what the Church stands to gain, when women lead.  Perhaps, if women are invited to the decision-making strata of Church life, more women who think will stay.  It is true that what got us here will not get us there…so finding the places for women to think and to lead has the potential to effect much-needed changes.

Since this is a blog, I’m going to just list some research findings and cite the source.  You can read more for yourself…what concerns me is both what’s being lost and, perhaps more important, the opportunity the current crisis in the Church offers when women are welcomed to leadership. Keep in mind, I believe this crisis is too severe to identify women’s leadership with ordination.  There’s plenty of room for women to be given real leadership opportunities aside from ordination.

Dr. Diane Chandler collects these conclusions from research on what women bring to the exercise of leadership:

  • Collaboration, teamwork and coaching
  • Honesty
  • Intelligence
  • Compassion
  • Extroversion
  • Creativity
  • Advocating for principles
  • Negotiating compromise
  • Representing the interests of the people
  • Keeping organizations honest

Marie C. Wilson contends that women bring:

  • Greater inclusiveness
  • Empathy
  • Communication skills
  • Fresh eyes with fresh solutions to old and abiding problems

Other researchers have discovered that women are:

  • More persuasive
  • Inclusive
  • Able to learn from adversity
  • Risk takers
  • More likely to speak out against unethical behavior
  • More likely to use internal reporting channels to report wrong-doing
  • Twice as likely as men to be internal whistle-blowers[ii]

Let’s develop women’s leadership capacity, welcome these gifts and trust that when they are embraced alongside the gifts men bring, the Spirit will light the way in these dark times for our Church.[iii]


[i] Jamie Manson. “Catholic Women Speak network calls for church reform, focus on women.”  National Catholic Reporter.  October 3, 2018.  https://www.ncronline.org/news/theology/catholic-women-speak-network-calls-church-reform-focus-women?utm_source=OCT_3_MANSON_WOMENSPEAK&utm_campaign=cc&utm_medium=email  Accessed 11/21/18

[ii] Diane Chandlter  “What Women Bring to the Exercise of Leadership.”  Journal of Strategic Leadership. Vol. 3.  Iss. 2, Winter 2011.  https://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jsl/vol3iss2/JSL_V3Is2_Chandler_pp1-12.pdf  Accessed 11/21/18

[iii] For more on what women bring to leadership, see “Eight Traits Every Powerful Female Leader Possesses.” Forbes.  October 3, 2017.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2017/10/03/eight-traits-every-powerful-female-leader-possesses/#21c2d730608f  ; “Women in Leadership: Characteristics that Make them Successful.”  July 19, 2017.  https://www.pma.com/content/articles/2017/07/women-in-leadership-characteristics-that-make-them-successful ; “5 reasons why having women in leadership benefits your entire company.” September 5, 2016.  https://medium.com/@theBoardlist/5-reasons-why-having-women-in-leadership-benefits-your-entire-company-labor-day-2016-a3e46162a7a0  All accessed 11/21/18


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As I write this, it’s just under a month until the first phase of the Church’s Synod on the process of synodality is to begin.