Historically, men have always dominated the facilities management space. In fact, in 2014 we reported on the consistent scarcity of women in executive roles. At that time, only 3 to 4 percent of women held CEO positions. A female facilities manager was practically a unicorn.
Since then, much has really changed.
Today, women hold 51.5 percent of management, professional and related positions in the United States. Women also currently hold 20 CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. Now, facilities management is inundated with talented female leaders.
So what makes women uniquely qualified for facilities management? Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of those around you. Those with high emotional intelligence are particularly strong in four key areas:
- Social Skills
Now, let’s take a look at how emotional intelligence factors into facilities leadership success and four reasons women are well-suited for a position in FM.
1. Consistent Self-Awareness
Strong self-awareness means an individual is in tune with how they feel, how their emotions affect their actions and how their actions affect those around them. Self-aware people also have a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. These individuals make great leaders because they set realistic expectations and goals, know when and to whom to delegate responsibilities and understand the important role they play in the success of their employees and the organization.
2. Effective Self-Management
A leader who can regulate their emotions and assess their actions objectively makes an ideal teacher and mentor because they rarely lash out or respond to situations irrationally. They also possess the soft skills necessary to maintain control of a situation. These attributes are important for employee growth and satisfaction.
But self-management is also an essential part of critical thinking. If emotional responses override a facilities leader’s ability to make quick decisions and take immediate action, smaller issues have greater potential to become larger problems.
3. Ability to Empathize
Leaders must have excellent listening skills and the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective. This is especially true for facilities leaders tasked with making sure their work environment adequately supports each employee.
Empathy supports the development of others by enabling leaders to provide thoughtful guidance and constructive feedback. Empathy also fortifies a company’s culture and employee loyalty, which directly impacts turnover and productivity rates.
4. Strong Social Skills
People with strong social skills are generally well-liked and great at communicating with all different types of people. From a facilities leadership standpoint, this is an important quality.
Leaders must be worthy of following if they are to be successful. And facilities managers are responsible for communicating with every level of an organization, including their management team, workforce, third-party vendors and maintenance crew. Their ability to balance these communications will determine the efficiency of their work environment.
Collectively, these four strengths represent why women are uniquely qualified for facilities management. This isn’t to say that men aren’t emotionally intelligent, too, or that all women possess a higher emotional intelligence than men, but studies suggest that women are generally stronger in these areas. Because of their high levels of emotional intelligence, female facilities managers can make decisive choices and nurture organizational growth in a way that supports productivity, efficiency and employee satisfaction.