Women continue to make strides in the workplace around equitable pay and leadership positions compared to their male counterparts, but there is still a long way to go.
According to the Washington Post, “The number of female CEOs of America’s most influential companies is stuck at 5 percent, as it was the year before. While women make up 45 percent of the labor force of the S&P 500, few are climbing to the very top.”
One factor that can keep women out of key upper management roles is the lack of an effective leadership style, and women face many difficulties in learning how to be an effective manager.
Female Leadership Challenges
There are certain female stereotypes that interfere with women learning to be good leaders and which present difficulties that their male counterparts will never experience. A recent Wall Street Journal piece describes it very well.
“Leadership experts say women must navigate a ‘double-bind:’ If they assert themselves forcefully, people may perceive them as not acting feminine enough, triggering a backlash. But if they act in a stereotypically feminine way, they aren’t seen as strong leaders.”
Additionally, says WSJ, the lack of women in leadership roles means a lack of role models for young women to emulate in developing a uniquely female leadership style. “Women can watch male leaders too, of course, but men can’t illustrate how to navigate female stereotypes.”
Steps To Move Forward
Here are some ways that female managers at any level can develop and strengthen their leadership abilities.
- Seek Out A Female Role Model – As stated above, this may be easier said than done. If there’s isn’t a competent female manager in your company, look to the outside. You might find someone in a professional or community group. Authentic Leadership International (boldermoves.com) can help you make these connections and offer continuing advice on leadership development.
- Find A Female Mentor – As stated above, you may need to go outside your company to find this. The site Business Dictionary advises, “Observe your mentor’s behavior closely, especially how she reacts in stressful or difficult situations. It is important to develop your own leadership style, but utilizing what you learn from a successful manager to mold your own behavior can be a good starting point.”
- Get Yourself Noticed – Women need to take charge of their office image, states WSJ. “They shouldn’t be content simply that their name is on an important report. Instead, they should actively engage colleagues and superiors, and talk frequently about their ideas and research.”
- Develop Your Skills – According to Business Directory, “As you become known for the quality of your work and for your achievements, your team and peers will start accepting you as a strong leader.”
As you grow and develop your leadership skills, remember to be patient with yourself and with those around you. You’re not only moving yourself forward; you’re also advancing the truth that women can be effective leaders in any organization and any business arena.
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Colleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!
Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.
Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.
If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.