The rise of ‘soft power’

The secret of successful women is femininity, according to new research from George Mason University in Virginia. Those with an aggressive approach are less likely to win promotion.

I’m sure the same applies to men, though. Personable, consultative and assertive people are better at motivating teams and engaging people and, ultimately, getting the best out of them, while autocratic, dictatorial leaders are becoming increasingly unfashionable. “Soft power” and persuasion are the new business tools.

A recent blog article in the Harvard Business Review on women and “soft power” in business considers the rise of women in politics whose approach is distinguished by dialogue and engagement ( The writer, Vineet Nayar, defines soft power as “the ability to influence or lead through persuasion or attraction by co-opting people rather than coercing them”. But he goes on to say: “Soft power isn’t the exclusive preserve of women – US president Obama, for instance, effectively uses soft power.”

Sandra Rapacioli, R&D manager, CIMA


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