Tactical Approaches

Women In Leadership

Struggles We Face As Women In Leadership:

  • Be Agreeable.
  • Prove yourself but don’t be overbearing.
  • Be flexible, but not a push over.
  • Be liked, Be small, Be quiet.

Said every woman ever.  As an executive coach, these challenges come up time and time again with the courageous women I meet with.  All of whom are strong, intelligent, passionate leaders who are determined to take their team where it needs to go. Yet all women in leadership face these battles.  One of the largest challenges they face is communicating a nonnegotiable message without being perceived as the overbearing bulldog.  On the other hand, the other challenge is not communicating too softly and then team doesn’t take anything you are directing seriously.  With every battle overcome, the true victory for any woman in leadership is to create a team motivated to act and become a part of something bigger than themselves. A force this fierce is unstoppable in the wake of any challenge.

When ideas or notions contradict the consensus we are less likely to share our idea or perspective.

Are you a leader and fearful of being perceived as a bulldog, over demanding, overbearing and not liked?

Ever felt over looked? Ignored?

Have you ever had something to say, say it, and then a man says the exact same thing and it is received?

Countless interviews I conducted with top  female CEO, CFO, and VP’s  revealed just how often these experiences for women in leadership are true. The struggle is real for women in leadership. In fact, most of the women I interviewed crafted strategies to combat these experiences. They did so to achieve their objective.   The amount of energy it takes to craft a message that will be successfully received without speculation, ridicule, or criticism is relentless.

Many of the women I interviewed formed relationships with key male coworkers to get their ideas into action.  When the company wouldn’t listen to the innovative idea or solution, she would find a way to get her male counterpart on board with her idea.  Once the idea or solution was planted and pitched by her male peer, the idea most often was put into motion.  It didn’t matter so much the credit wasn’t offered to her, in as much as the job was getting done.  Despite the battles, women in leadership are persistent and won’t give up. They will find a way no matter what and public flattery is not what they are after.

The power of being a woman in the business:

Studies of the brain:

  1. Women have between fourteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evaluate others’ behavior versus a man’s four to six areas.
  2. Research by Psychologist at Harvard University showed women are far more alert to body language than men. It was found women read situations more accurately 87% of the time.
  3. http://(http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/books/chapters/0924-1st-peas.html)

These studies were fascinating and highlighted the truth behind these women in leadership.    The skills they used to make their dream come alive include observing their surroundings, listening for key information, and building the network of relationships they need.  Their gift lies in reading business situations very quickly to predict whether they are going south fast or on target to win. Leaders have a way of moving through a room, inspiring their team into action, and knowing what relationships to forge to build their dream.

Be Confident & Get Results!

One of the key cornerstones of the women in leadership I interviewed was their ability to communicate. To effectively watch the message move from a directive into an action and then implementation. One key difference of the women I interviewed and many of the women aspiring to be future leaders was their ability to be themselves unapologetically.  In doing so, they lead from a sincere and genuine place.  So often, we are trying tirelessly to please everyone around us and fail.  By succumbing to the pressures to please everyone, others on the receiving end of communication get confused by the message and the sincerity of it.  To be an effective leader obtain from using filler words as a way of trying to be nice and not overbearing.

Get rid of useless language.

Filler words that we think make what we are saying nice but they reduce clarity in our message.

  • Example: sorry, actually, that, just, really, thanks!!!, I’ll try to, My first thought is, no problem, This will only take a minute,

Start with your email. Use your email as a platform to change the way you communicate with others.

  • Before sending out an email, use it as a draft and take out unnecessary filler words, apologetic language, and unnecessary punctuation.
  • Unnecessary punctuation:  :), !!!, …,

Stop apologizing

  • Stop apologizing for things that are not our fault.
  • Example:Client canceling a meeting due to their own schedule. “I’m sorry our time frame didn’t work out. Just let me know what works for you to reschedule.”
  • Instead, “Please provide days and times we can reschedule our apt.”
  • Stop apologizing for doing your job and taking time.
  • Example: Sorry this will only take a second of your time, sorry to bother you, sorry this will just take a minute, sorry to interrupt.


Get Clear!

Be direct.

Be clear and direct about what you are asking, expecting, and wanting.

The clearer you can be, the better the message will be understood.

Use specific language to achieve the results you are looking for.

It was clear to me as I was interviewing these amazing women in leadership, each one of them was crystal clear on their objective. They all had a vision and were passionate about the trajectory of its story.  Thus, their ability to be direct with others was no challenge not worth facing.

What is your vision? What is your trajectory? Whatever the case may be, the leader inside of you is waiting to rise.  Go after it, unapologetically, without reserve, give it all you have.

“Most of what you need in life will be brought to you.  Most of what you want in life you’ll have to go and get.  Destiny doesn’t come to you, RUN AFTER IT.”

Be courageous even if it is uncomfortable.

March 9, 2017