International Women's Day 2021: What makes a good leader?

On a day of celebrating great achievements, we ask ourselves what makes one of the greatest achievements of all – being a great leader.

Throughout history, women typically had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Men were seen as the breadwinners, and women were expected to focus on wifehood and motherhood. Fortunately, we have come a long way since then and more and more women are now taking on senior leadership roles. However, these roles are still mainly dominated by men, and in 2019, it was reported by global non-profit business, Catalyst, that women accounted for only 33.1% of senior managers and leaders.

So what does make a great leader? We canvassed opinion from our staff on what they believe makes a great leader and terms like; Inspiring, trusting, real, responsible and selfless came out frequently. Unsurprisingly, not one mentioned gender, or ‘being a male’.

The energy industry itself has always been typically male dominated, and although there has been a shift – there is still some way to go. In a 2020 review by Powerful Women, a professional initiative to advance gender diversity within the energy sector, it was found that 38% of energy businesses have no women on the board and only 21% of business have boards that meet the Davies target of 33% women.

But why is this the case? Women have shown themselves as excellent leaders over the years. ITV, Youtube, Bumble, LK Bennett and Playmob are just some of the extremely successful business that were founded or run by women.

At CNG, we are proud to have created a culture where men and women are treated equally and recognise the strength of gender diversity in leadership. We think it is the characteristics of a person that makes them a great leader, and don’t believe that being a woman makes you any less of one.

Over 57% of CNG’s managerial and senior leadership positions are held by women. We know success isn’t based on gender; success is based on hard work, commitment and specific personal characteristics.

HR Advisor, Abi Aldred commented on what they look for in a successful leader:  “Great leadership is more than just giving clear direction and instruction, it’s creating a space and a culture in which people can contribute and flourish. It’s about empowering the people they lead by giving them a voice, allowing them to speak openly, providing their feedback and views. Great leaders have a way of making the people around them feel bold and buoyant, bringing out the best ideas from their teams and greater enthusiasm for the roles they can play in the business. The most inspiring leaders see their role as enabling, growing and developing those around them!”

The fundamentals are that staff want authenticity. When asked, our employees said that to be a great leader, a person had to have a clear vision and the ability to articulate that vision so that staff understand how to make it a reality. They need to be trusting, as great leader/employee relationships are built on a good foundation of trust. A great leader is someone who is inclusive and always looking to include others – drawing on opinions, thoughts and experiences. CNG believe a leader should be selfless, but most of all they need to set an example and lead from the front – talk the talk AND walk the walk.

At CNG, this International Women’s Day we are celebrating women in leadership and focusing on the aspects that make someone a great leader, their skills and characteristics – not their gender.  Gone are the days of ‘girl boss’ and ‘She-E-O’, women want to be recognised in the same way men are ‘bosses’, CEOs and leaders.