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COVID 19 (Disease) -- United States, Women Leaders


International and national crises often highlight behavioral patterns in the labor market that illustrate women’s courage and adaptability in challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting changes in the workplace due to social distancing, remote work, and tele-communications protocols showcased women’s power of authenticity and accessibility (interpersonal and personalized experiences) to engage with their constituents effectively. The catalyzed this research was our desire to underscore the importance of studying the impact of COVID-19 on women leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light specific challenges and disparities women faced in the workplace. It has been asserted that women leaders substantially benefit businesses and organizations and we wanted to test this out through the practices of our research participants. Decades of research reveal that women leaders enhance productivity, foster collaboration, inspire dedication, and promote fairness in the workplace. This article introduces the feminist Connective Leadership Model (CL) an integrative leadership model and one informed by early feminist theory for understanding women’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. A mixed-method study of select US women leaders before and during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the CL model and its efficacy for adaptive, inclusive leadership in various contexts. First, this article highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s leadership and behavioral response to the crisis through the lens of the CL model. Second, this article delves into challenges the women leaders faced, including adaptive challenges, isolation, team management, increased caregiving responsibilities, and gender-related disparities. Third, this article reframes women’s voices articulated through a crisis management leadership framework coupled with an understanding and application of the behaviors defined through complexity theory which are aligned with the CL model. Finally, the article discusses the four ‘As’ of crisis leadership: authenticity, alignment, awareness, and adaptability. The application of the CL model provides an effective framework for determining the most appropriate leadership behaviors within the complex challenges of a crisis; it enables the leader to focus on personal, employee, and organizational well-being.


© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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