Women in leadership positions face a number of challenges. It is still a man’s world and in trying to make it more equal we have to ask ourselves if we are trying to retro-fit ourselves into a man’s world or are we trying to make it gender neutral? I believe there has been movement away from the retro-fitting concept. Most women (60%) do not feel they have to act like male leaders to make it. Research is also telling us that the female style results in better leadership but there are still many challenges facing women leaders. Here are some of the more pressing issues that women need to pay attention to.
Delegating – Women still think they have to do it all by themselves. Skill in delegation actually makes a person a better leader and frees up valuable time to focus on the most important things.
Negotiation – Many women do not step up and negotiate for what they need in terms of resources. A leader cannot be shy or reticent about asking for and even demanding what they need to get the job done.
Balance – This shows up in a couple of ways. Leaders need to balance their emotions with some peaceful interludes. Being in high gear all of the time takes a physical toll on people. The other big one here is work/life balance. This causes a great deal of stress and anxiety for a leader when they cannot make the decisions they need to make about their own balance issues.
Emotions – It is important for leaders to be passionate. Many women leaders are very passionate and they have to be sure that passion does not come across as anger.
Guilt – It is OK to ask for help. As a matter of fact, it is important to ask for help and to give it. Jobs are so big these days that no one can possibly do them all by themselves. Go to the smartest and best qualified person to get the help needed.
Voice – Some women still have a difficult time finding their voice in the business environment. Part of that may be a self-confidence issue. The fact is that you were selected for the job you are in and leaders are expected to speak up and be heard. Be prepared and add your value.
Self-confidence – Some leaders can be their own worst enemy. What you are doing is enough – it is probably more than what others are doing. You do influence people everyday – step into it and be intentional about how you influence. Believe you can and you will.
Culture – Women leaders, like all leaders, need to find a culture that supports their style so they can be who they are and let their genius flow. Position yourself in a place where your clarity, confidence and influence can make a difference.
As is all positions, job fit is huge. Work to make your job be supportive of who you are and what you have to give. If you can do that you will be more productive and have more impact on your organization.
Finding a good coaching program will help you get over these challenges. The support they give will help you apply what you learn directly to your own job and your own workplace.
By Andrew Clapton