When you look back at the best and most effective bosses you have ever worked with, or for, what traits come to mind? As you reflect back, how did their behaviors make you feel?

Were you more engaged on the job? More satisfied with the type of work you did? Were your needs met? Did you grow as a person? I imagine all those things apply.

I also imagine your bosses may have displayed these habits day in, day out. Do you agree?

  • They were/are role models with a high degree of character and integrity. They behaved ethically -- interacting openly, fairly, and honestly with you and others.
  • They put the mission and purpose of the organization first -- ahead of personal gains -- and reinforced its values consistently. 
  • They showed sensitivity to your professional, but also, personal concerns.
  • They helped you grow and succeed -- demonstrating genuine concern for your and others' career growth and development by providing support and mentoring
  • They stimulated you to think about new ways of doing things, allowed you to question assumptions, and never criticized you for making mistakes.

If you resonated with those bullets above, you probably worked or are currently working for a servant leader, or its close cousin -- the transformational leader

Its been proven that such leaders will reduce turnover through virtuous behaviors that lead to results.

Even more important, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, it has been found that transformational leaders, in particular, are a perfect fit for inspiring, empowering, and retaining women in the workforce.

How transformational leadership aids retention in women. 

Anne Brafford, a former high-powered attorney who left law to study with world-class experts in positive organizational psychology, recently authored Positive Professionals, a fascinating, science-backed tour de force on workplace engagement.

In her book, she references a 2012 study that found that "high levels of transformational leadership and work engagement have a bigger impact on women's career satisfaction than on men's career satisfaction." 

What exactly was the difference maker for satisfied career women everywhere? If companies are looking to prevent the turnover of female workers, it comes down to two words, per the research:

Meaningful work.

I know what you're thinking. Shouldn't that be the case for all workers, regardless of gender? We all want meaningful work with a purpose, where managers craft jobs we are passionate about, and where we come to work excited about doing things that play to our strengths. So what gives? 

Citing several other key research studies, Brafford clears the air:

While both genders value meaningful work, women more often rate it as the most important job attribute or as a 'very important' job value and are more likely to leave when it's lacking. Also, women, way more than men, endorse as 'very important' the work value of feeling esteemed or 'valued as a person.' 

The bottom line.

What the research strongly asserts is that transformational leaders need to be identified and developed across organizational levels to foster positive work environments that boost the motivation, development, and retention of all workers. But, taking it a giant step forward, such leaders should especially prevail in male-dominated, female-patronizing work cultures that don't fully recognize or value the contributions of their female peers and colleagues.