Leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic

In April 2020, in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, Forbes magazine (1) started a debate that afterwards expanded into the media, affirming that women are the best managing the coronavirus crisis. The keys to success that can be attributable to their management are: a bigger empathy, transparency in the communication of information, use of technology and the fast and effective decisions that they took (2)

From LaGroc, we have missed a broader and more critical reading on the subject. The main question is: are women better leaders just because they are women? Is it a biological matter or it is again a Glass Cliff situation, a practice of offering leadership positions to women when the level of failure is higher?

That is why, thanks to the literature and the published articles, we decided to do a little “research” with the main objective of going further and determine which are the common factors of the fourteen countries that according to the media have best led this pandemic: Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Greece, Portugal, Austria and Japan [1].

Being a women is a guarantee of good leadership?

The current situation is that only 6% of the countries worldwide are led by women. However, half of the leaders who have best responded to the pandemic are women.

Apart from this transcendental element, it is also important to note that there are other shared factors, framed in the following infographic, that determine part of the success of these countries, that have best led the management of the covid-19.

What has most called our attention? Democracy and civil rights

Almost all the countries, exactly 93%, have high levels of democracy, protection of civil rights and freedoms (3), including gender equality[2]. In addition, in this list, 60% of the countries approved women’s suffrage before the 40’s and 43% have had more than one woman leader running the country. It is also important to note that 60% of the countries on the list have peer governments and 36% are pioneers in gender equality policies.

We could say that in the end, not only the figure of the leader is important, but also the organization of the government is equal, and the country’s long tradition of democracy and civil rights is important. 

And to finish, why has there been talk of female leadership and not of feminist leadership? This would be another debate that we will leave for another time.


(1) Forbes Magazine. Why Do Women Make Such Good Leaders During COVID-19? (more information)

(2) Newspaper LaMarea. ¿Qué tienen en común los países liderados por mujeres que están dando una mejor respuesta a la pandemia? (more information)

(3) Freedom House. (more information)

[1]  These fourteen countries in the first place, have a percentage of deaths by covid-19 lower per 100,000 inhabitants than the world average. Second, they have tested more per capita than most, and finally, they are countries that have suffered the first wave of covid-19 after China. Therefore, no Latin American or African countries are included. This is why a selection of countries is questionable, since it does not respond to the “best” but to the countries that Forbes mentioned as such.

[2]For example: Human Development Data (1990-2018). United Nations. Accés: http://hdr.undp.org/en/datao 2020 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVES TACKLING SOCIAL NORMS A game changer for gender inequalities. United Nations, Accés: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hd_perspectives_gsni.pdf

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