By Suzanna de Baca | President and Group Publisher, Business Publications Corp.

How do women lead in crisis and change? How do you want to lead?

In recent weeks, and last week in particular, we have experienced an unprecedented health crisis and economic disruption on a global scale. That these events are coincidentally unfolding during 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the U.S., and during Women’s History Month caused me to reflect on how women have historically managed change and crisis. Just in U.S. history, women have traditionally shown vision and resilience and have excelled at collaboration and innovation. We were the immigrant women fearlessly coming to a new land, the indigenous matriarchs, the pioneer women who forged forward, the tough-as-nails homesteaders enduring endless obstacles, the suffragists  women fearlessly fighting for our families, opportunities and rights.

In the current pandemic situation, we will undoubtedly play an equally critical role in managing and shaping the responses, feelings and performance of people around us  whether our families and loved ones, our community members or our colleagues at work.

I was reminded of a survey of almost 800 global business leaders conducted by McKinsey & Co. in 2009 called "Women leaders, a competitive edge in and after the crisis." That survey showed that leadership behaviors more frequently adopted by women leaders were critical to navigate through the financial crisis of that decade. Pre-crisis, women were more effective at various dimensions, including people development, expectations and rewards, and role modeling. Post-crisis, women outperformed men at inspiration and participative decision-making skills. The survey stated: "The ability of top management to guide and inspire action is seen as the key dimension" in managing crisis and change. The title says it all – when the going gets tough, women are a competitive edge.

As we navigate the days and months ahead, we will be faced with difficult global, national and local challenges. We will be confronted with uncertainty and hard decisions and be surrounded by individuals who are fearful, stressed and unsure of how to proceed. In these days of disruption, the visionary and caring approach that comes easily to women will be vitally important. Remember, you have skills that are uniquely suited to navigating change and crisis. Trust in yourself and draw on the leadership attributes women have demonstrated throughout the ages: inspiring, determined, compassionate and fearless.

We can do this.