As a woman in leadership, what is your best tip for a future female leader?
While the modern workspace is more open and equitable for women than previously, there are still pitfalls to avoid and shortcomings that can be improved moving forward. We asked 13 women who are leading the charge in their industries for their advice to future generations and working women everywhere.
As a female leader in business, I’ve learned it’s critical to make sure your voice is heard. When in meetings, always let your team know about your idea, your thoughts on a project or a concern you may have about a project. Your ideas and thoughts are essential, and your voice needs to be heard.
All too often, women don’t share their opinions (positive or negative) because of how they think others will perceive them. It’s time to stop that mindset, understand the immense value you bring to the table, and let others hear your ideas to help move projects in the right direction and positively impact your organization.
Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions
Foster a supportive community
Oftentimes as women move up the leadership ladder, we are made to believe there are only so many seats at the table that can or will be filled by women. This creates a scarcity belief that causes us to see other women as our competition. In reality, the system that limits female opportunity is the problem. By building community with other women, including those who are potentially vying for the same seat, we have the power to change the system to create more seats, rather than competing with other ambitious women for the same one. Community creates change.
Neely Tubati-Alexander, Culture Connective
Volunteer your time
Great leaders start with the desire to serve others. Their leadership skills develop from this desire. Serving others means listening to what your people are saying, showing empathy for their needs, and building a community based on mutual trust. This will allow you to lead by persuading others, rather than forcing compliance. A good way of developing a leadership style based on service is to volunteer your time and be an active part of your community. As a female leader, I attribute my success to my unwavering commitment to the support and growth of my team.
Leanna Serras, FragranceX
Stop trying to be Superwoman
Stop trying to be Superwoman! I see it all the time in my practice: A woman has risen through the ranks and finally gets the title and/or salary she’s been striving for, only to feel so exhausted, overwhelmed, and burnt-out that she can’t even enjoy it. In our culture, women are told they can be and do anything (yes, you can!), but they’re not told they can’t do everything. No one can do everything!
Many women in heterosexual relationships, though they work full time like their partner, are the primary caregiver for the kids. They’re also the primary caretaker of the home, at least the inside of the house. While managing kids, a home, a full-time job and life in general is heroic, women need to drop the belief that they have to be Superwoman. They need to know it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Quite the contrary! The key to being an excellent leader is leaning into support, asking for help whether it be from your partner, friends, service providers or other professionals.
Emily Golden, Golden Resources, LLC
Break the leadership mold with authenticity
Be a leader who is authentic. There’s no longer one mold for what defines a great leader. Bring your ideas and your complete self to the table. Lead with humility and be willing to fail. Making mistakes is the best way to test what will work and what won’t. Do right by your employees and your customers to build trust and a community to rally with you. Stop listening to the voice in your head saying that you don’t have what it takes—and listen instead to the one that’s ready to soar.
Muriel Clauson, Anthill
Ask powerful questions
Learn how to design powerful questions. Then ask them. And listen to the answers. Let the response to your questions influence your thinking. Don’t think you have to have all of the answers and avoid the pressure to be decisive on the spot. To the contrary, leadership requires critical thinking and that should emerge from research and questions that unearth genuine responses and facts worthy of consideration.
Deborah Waddill, Restek Consulting, LLC
Do what you feel is right
Just do you. Don’t listen to the patriarchal messages that men are more ruthless, which is why they get to the top. You don’t have to act in a masculine way in business. Listen to your gut, don’t listen to what society tells you you have to be as a business leader; there’s a reason it’s called women’s intuition.
Natalie Welch, The Typeface Group
Find meaning in whatever you do
When you have a purpose associated with what you do, you will grow your leadership bigger and faster. Your impact becomes greater as you align yourself internally and externally. Internal alignment is about what motivates you intrinsically. Your internal motivation reflects something important to you and that usually stems from what you find meaningful. External alignment flows naturally once you identify what brings you meaning. It’s from that place of resonance where you lead with conviction and strength.
Laura Barker, Laura Barker Coaching
Build upon your own leadership style
Statistically, there are a lot more men in leadership positions, but that doesn’t mean your leadership style can’t be different from theirs. Find out what your strengths are and excel at these. Be coachable. Find other leaders you look up to and ask for advice. Be sure to carefully evaluate any feedback you receive. I was told I am too emotional, but by which standard? I have turned it into a strength that enables me to connect with people and motivate them intrinsically.
Denia Verhoef, Leadfeeder
Find a mentor & become one yourself
One of the fastest ways to accelerate both your personal growth and scope of impact is through mentorship. Never underestimate the power of cultivating transformational relationships while also giving others a hand up as you go. Not only does mentorship expand our perspective, it also fosters community and connections that benefit more than our station or career.
We cannot simply be the benefactors of expert guidance or we risk failing to integrate the lessons long enough to create the foundational habits that build sustainable success. When we intentionally pour effort into someone else early on, we elevate the degree of accountability and raise the proverbial stakes so that we follow through for something greater than ourselves. Sharing our own expertise and passed-down wisdom while opening up to the insights of others gives access to the greater pool of knowledge and ups the ante in our individual performance.
Amanda Ferris, Clover & Kind
Find the courage to say ‘No’
There are over a hundred definitions of leadership. But not many that specifically define female leadership. Some may argue that’s because leadership has been traditionally male dominated. Others might say because there’s no such thing as female leadership, it’s just leadership. Regardless of what you believe, here’s what I learned in my 10+ years of leading others.
Whether you decide to embrace mostly female or male (or both) leadership traits, your responsibility remains the same: To lead others towards a common goal. And the best way to get them there? To remain unshaken and unafraid to courageously and boldly make frequent use of the most under-utilized word by female leaders: “No.” Saying “No” unapologetically and with humility is the key to eliminating all the sneaky distractions and misleading “priorities” in order to lead others to success.
Ioni Papadakis, 9 ELEPHANTS CONSULTING INC.
Develop an efficient work-life balance
You can never be known as successful if you don’t manage both your professional and personal life. The ongoing battle at work and home is equally important and attentive to one another. As a leader, you should be available at times when you don’t want to be or circumstances make you off the clock. By struggling between these don’t forget to make a great rapport with colleagues and coworkers. Times, when you need to have off the system, support from your coworkers, your partner and relatives can be a great source when dealing with any conflicts between the two most important parts of life.
Deepa Tailor, Tailor Law
Trust your own judgment on the final say
Being a leader means following your own path and doing what’s right and just, in spite of what others may say. While asking for guidance and opinions from others can be helpful in narrowing down options and making decisions, leaders have the confidence to be able to have the final say. Of course, it’s also important to be able to rise above the hate, petty jealousies, and other issues that tend to plague female leaders. Focus on the job at hand, and everything will turn out fine!
Laura Ellick, Psychology & Wellness Services, PLLC