Ladies … It Is Time To Lead Like A Woman
Women continue to struggle to make their mark on the corporate landscape with the number of women securing leadership roles sadly lagging behind their male counterparts.
It saddens me to walk into leadership meetings to find the disproportionate representation of men and women on the team.
A recent Ernst & Young women in leadership report concluded that “leadership groups make smarter, more informed decisions; customers are better understood; employees are less cynical and more engaged; and organisations gain competitive advantage” when there are large numbers of senior women within the organisation.
With only 16% to 20% of leadership positions occupied by women, clearly something needs to change.
It is wonderful to see the conversation around how to support and promote women in leadership roles gaining momentum. It is clear there is no one simple answer to this challenge. There is robust debate about whether we should have quotas, the need for more ideal female role models, the impact senior men can have on encouraging more women and training to help women get the competitive edge. The answer will undoubtedly take a combination of all of these.
But I believe it is also time for women to stop competing with men and start embracing their unique, brilliant feminine skills and capabilities to add to the corporate equation. It is time we started to lead like women!
Mid last century women, in large numbers, discovered they liked working, earning money and gaining recognition for their talents. They demanded to be treated equally to men and, in order to succeed in business, they believed they had to become like men and compete with them for the prized senior roles.
Unfortunately, this means leaving much of our innate femininity behind. On a primal level men and women are essentially wired differently.
Women are hardwired to desire cooperation, collaboration and operate from a place of compassion, empathy and intuition. While men – generally speaking – are driven to bring home a good income for their family, achieve status and recognition and are firmly focused on achieving targets and goals.
Given that historically most workplaces have been male dominated for a very long time, they essentially operate from a masculine paradigm where the focus is on winning, power and the bottom line.
When we let go of our natural, innate strengths and reject our feminine energy, we don’t feel right… but often we don’t know why.
Women tell me they feel disconnected, constantly tired and struggle between making decisions from a compassionate, intuitive place verses from a logical numbers, driven perspective.
It is important to recognise that both men and women develop strong leadership skills when they tap into both their masculine and feminine energy. It is not an either or but a combination that makes the most powerful leaders.
So ladies … it time to be bold and lead like a woman! You will feel better, see better results from your team and create a more engaged, happier workplace.
Here are some tips to bring your strong feminine energy to work.
1. Recognise your strengths. Start by recognising and acknowledging your unique strengths. Are you bringing all of who you are and what you are capable of to your role?
2. Connect even more. We love to connect and we are good at it. So do more of it! But lets also be a little strategic about it. Who can you connect, network and build a relationship with, who might be able to support you and help you tap into new leadership opportunities.
3. Collaborate for powerful outcomes. Collaboration is a key strength of many women. It is time to break down the barriers and competitive nature of many workplaces and start working more effectively together to reach a common goal.
Get your team on board. We all bring so much more to our work if we feel involved and included. An engaged team will bring you results that will get you noticed!
4. Dress like a woman. Stop blending in and looking like one of the men at work. Identify your style, dress for success and bring a touch of femininity to your outfit. However, keep it professional. There is no place for your “girls” being out on show in the office.
5. Manage your energy. Work life balance is a myth with many women holding down busy paid employment and then heading home to step into their second full time role as mother, wife and social organiser.
To avoid burn out, one solution is to understand what activities give you energy and build more of these into your day. Discover what tasks deplete you and delegate as many of these as you can. If most of your work is made up of energy sappers … it is time to ask yourself whether you are in the right role.
Women bring unique and important attributes to leadership such as building relationships, collaboration and partnerships – all of which trump traditional power and competition of the masculine workplace.
Workplaces everywhere are crying out for a change in the way we do things and I believe, in many instances, the increased participation of women in leadership positions, leading as women from their feminine power, is the answer.