Although more women are being seen in senior management positions, we still see significant disparities - for every company run by a woman, there are almost 13 run by a man.
Although women are no less qualified than men to run a business, they’re regularly held to higher standards. Here are some lessons in leadership we can all take away from women that have achieved and excelled in top leadership positions.
You Don’t Need to Sacrifice Family
There’s a misconception that most successful professionals, and particularly female ones, need to shove marriage and family aside in order to advance in their careers. Yet 80 percent of women don’t think family responsibilities pose a challenge to women in leadership.2
You can still have an abundant family life and be fully capable of flourishing professionally. Even further, you can still be a caring, empathetic, fun spouse and/or parent while also being a responsible, straightforward executive. Those caring, empathetic and fun qualities, too, don’t have to disappear when you go into work mode.
Be a Leader of the People
Female leaders excel in ethics and fairness.3 Exercise toughness when you need to and certainly don’t be passive, but don’t fall into over-aggressiveness or narcissism. Be a leader, not a dictator.
It’s important to be empathetic and understanding; don’t only be a leader that your employees are proud of, be a leader that helps your employees grow. In addition, champion compromise and delegation. You don’t have to do everything yourself, but be sure that you effectively distribute tasks and don’t become disconnected from the rest of your company.
Encourage Employees to Grow
Research shows that female leaders also prioritize mentorship.4 It’s important to build up and mentor your employees, professionally and personally, so that they can hone their skills and develop a passion for their work.
Business executives have their plates full with operational responsibilities, but simply exhibiting your own passion for your work will take important steps in instilling that same passion in your employees. Always keep a line of communication with your company and keep tabs on every department.
Know When Not to Take a Risk
Male leaders have an edge over female leaders when it comes to risk-taking.5 Some of the best decisions often involve risk, but there are some situations where the costs are too great for a potential reward.
If a decision isn’t risky for you but may be for your peers or coworkers, don’t disregard that. It’s still a cost, even if it doesn’t impact you directly. Big moves make big differences, but it's important to think through all decisions with clarity and tact.
Despite roadblocks, even systemic ones, believe in your abilities and use them strategically. These exemplary female leaders are proof of societal progress and the fruits of hard work. In the face of adversity, we all must continue to create goals and work towards them with grit and compassion- that’s the biggest lesson we can take away from these hardworking executives.
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