As the 2022 National Women’s Health Week kicks off, remember it was only 40 short years ago (give or take) that a woman’s place was in the home. She took care of the children, cleaned the house, did the ironing (Remember those boards?), and served dinner when her husband walked through the door.
Well, we’ve come a long way baby. We trashed the cigarettes, hung the apron, and instead of taking notes at the board meeting, we ran it. Women have an inherent aversion to inequity and a natural tendency to create a culture that values fairness, justice, and collaboration. These are just a few soft skills that make women exceptional leaders.
Breaking Barriers – Why Capable Women Don’t Pursue Leadership Roles
Leadership used to be exclusively a men's club, and women were encouraged to play the supporting role by taking dictation and fetching coffee. These positions neglected to nurture a woman’s natural leadership capability and hindered further advancement by failing to encourage women to pursue a leadership role.
Although much has changed, not surprisingly, women cite a lack of confidence as the most significant barrier to leadership success. One way to overcome this is to offer young girls opportunities for leadership that will naturally build their self-confidence. Positive experiences at an early age help girls envision themselves as successful later in life and encourages them to strive for leadership roles as they advance through their career.
A company’s commitment to helping women advance by recognizing key leadership skills such as effective decision-making and providing opportunities to network with successful female leaders will help shape the future for women in business.
Having women leaders in business is good for everyone. Data shows that Fortune 500 companies with a high number of women on their boards reaped competitive financial advantages.
- Return on Sales - 84% Advantage
- Return on Investment Capital – 60% Advantage
- Return on Equity – 46% Advantage
Source- The Bottom Line, Catalyst Inc.
Women are naturally great relationship builders, and they give their all to every relationship, whether it’s personal or business. This ease of engagement with others makes a company likable and easy to deal with, and once in this position, the company is set up for great success.
Great Leaders Are Born and Made –It is no small feat for a woman to advance to a CEO level within a company and then excel in the position. Women’s leadership style tends to be distinctly different from how men lead, which shapes how they run their teams and the team’s effectiveness.
Women are (generally) transformational leaders. This leadership style works with teams to lift morale, recognize reliable job performance, and create a shared vision that boosts motivation. Transformational leaders identify needed change and guide through inspiration and effective communication bringing much-needed cohesiveness to the team.
Women desiring a leadership position usually have a vision for the future of a company and a plan to get there. But to be successful, she must be confident enough to be visible and advocate for her ideas.
If you want to be a successful leader, you must be confident in your abilities (even when you’re not), compassionate and diligent.
Here are more valuable leadership skills to practice whether you intend to be a leader, are a new leader, or you’ve been traveling this leadership rodeo awhile.
1. Be Friends with Your Inner Critic – That little voice inside calling you out for being an imposter is not doing you any favors. Every negative bias and potential negative outcome and admonishment over something you could have handled better will drag you down.
Do not let that voice speak to you that way. Squash the negativity by:
a. Talking back to it
b. Refusing to speak the thought out loud
c. Redefining the failure as a lesson learned/success
d. Getting help - reach out to a trusted source and talk it out
e. Ignoring it like you would ignore your annoying ex
2. Become a Master Communicator – Effective communication is the key to success in every human interaction. While there are no easy and quick communication tips to keep in your back pocket, there are consistent strategies you can practice such as:
a. Listen with the intent to understand, not defend or attack
b. Limit negative verbal and facial expressions
c. Do not read into the other person. Ask for clarification.
d. Do not second guess yourself. Speak when you are comfortable with your thoughts .
e. Speak with confidence and stay on topic
f. Enter into a disagreement with the intent to reach a solution rather than prove you are right
3. Take Risks – Step out of that oh so safe and comfortable zone. Believe in yourself and have the confidence to act. Do not overthink it. Leap even if you don’t have 100% faith in the outcome. Try something new, do a little dance, and be a little risky.
4. Find Mentors & Network Like Crazy – No one does it by themselves. Every person rises to the top with a mentor who guides them every step of the way. Your mentor can be anyone who knows where you want to go and can help you get there by offering advice, coaching, support or lending an ear so you can vent your frustrations along the way.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one person. Build a network of supportive colleagues and have them introduce you to their network. Nuggets of success are often found in the most unlikely places.
5. Choose to Offer Support – When someone comes to you with a problem stemming from a poor choice or bad decision, they have already beaten themselves up. Don’t join the party. Ask how you can help.
When your competition gets a big win, don’t be snarky. Congratulate that person and wish them well. Even if you think you could’ve done better.
Emerging as a strong leader takes guts and almost (like 90%) complete confidence in your ability to guide a company toward growth. That 10 percent lack of confidence that creeps in from time to time will zap you if you let it. Don’t let it.
Keep your defenses strong by taking care of yourself. A great leader can't lead at all if they are unhealthy and exhausted. Take exercise breaks and eat food that sustains you. Be social with family and friends. Spend alone time with your thoughts to regroup and recharge.
Be the inspirational leader whose team gets excited about the direction you are taking them.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!
Hegstad, D. C. (2016, May 17). Effective Leadership: How To Be More Than Just A Boss. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/05/17/effective-leadership-how-to-be-more-than-just-a-boss/?sh=4663a9403a33
Jackie Gaines, M. R. (2020, December). Why Women Leaders Excel During Times of Crisi. Retrieved from Peoria Magazine: https://www.peoriamagazines.com/pm/2020/dec/why-women-leaders-excel-during-times-crisis
Theus, D. (2022). Woman in Leadership: What Works. Retrieved from In Power Coaching: https://web.kamihq.com/web/viewer.html?document_identifier=be8dc0c98a121eee%3A%3ABE8DC0C98A121EEE!21142&filename=undefinedµsoft_user_id=00000000-0000-0000-be8d-c0c98a121eee&kami_user_id=7875008&source=onedrive
Williams, e. (2022). 10 Tips for Emerging Female Leaders. Retrieved from Mac's List: https://www.macslist.org/career-happiness/tips-emerging-female-leaders