The dynamics of the corporate world is continuously evolving for the better. Especially in relation to issues of gender diversity in the workplace – it was not too long ago that gender stereotypes were prevalent across society such as, a women’s role is at home not in the office, or women are not assertive enough to lead and one that were all familiar with female leaders must act like men to get ahead in the workplace.
Although, gender stereotypes concerning female leadership have become less prevalent with many more women over the last decade taking up more leadership positions in business and politics - underlying systematic barriers are still at hand in the workplace.
There have been many misconceptions about women leaders over the years. Here at half the sky we have put together the six strategies to battle some of those classic stereotypes and provide you with the tools to keep climbing that corporate ladder and break the glass ceiling.
Finding a mentor
As humans, it is in our nature to learn by observing others. When we were a child, we mirror the actions of our family members and as teens, we were influenced by the actions of our peers. This is how our characters are built and shapes us into the person we are today. Being a leader is a similar process, where finding a person to look up to and guide you through out your journey will be beneficial. It will allow you to have knowledge on how to navigate your way around the issues or challenges that may arise as you stand as a leader and tackle them correctly to avoid any future occurrence.
Choose a mentor that has your best interest at heart as they will be able to ease the bond you make with your new team. Don’t be reluctant to ask him/her questions over matters that are troubling you and learn as you go from trial and error. The more experienced you are, the better you will be at handling challenges. Overtime, you will be able to master them and be a well-informed leader. Respect and trust will be earned from your team and maybe in the future, you will be someone else’s mentor.
2. Always stand out
The first thought that pops into people’s mind when they hear, ‘stand out’ is arrogance or show off but that is not always the case. As a leader, standing out just shows that you are passionate about your role and genuinely want to make a difference by ensuring your voice is heard. In order to express your innovative ideas or suggestions to overcome a problem, one must speak up. Someone has to set an example in the team, so it might as well be you.
However, don’t try to overstep a subordinate’s opinion but listen to them and suggest ways they can improve on it. Use your power to inspire them instead of putting them down. Make them feel as if they are free to use their voice even if it’s to criticize your work because then you’ll be able to learn from each other. Employees will be inspired by your confidence and this will encourage them to follow your footsteps in expressing their thoughts. In result, the relationship within your team will be strengthened.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
The energy you surround yourself with is crucial in a working environment especially when it takes up a big chunk of your life. People can either grow with us or stunt our growth which is why it’s best to choose carefully the team of people you work with. Pick team mates who are eager to learn and make an impact instead of those empty suits or faultfinders. Through your persistence and undying effort, your team will have faith in your leadership and integrity. Once you have this, nothing can stop the teamwork. You best be assured they won’t turn their backs even when you fail.
Being a leader that they can go to when help is needed or to just lend an ear will build a better relationship. At the end of the day, all we want is to be valued and respected by each other and this starts with you. Some good can come out of this, as your team will be faithful towards you and as Richard Branson wisely quotes ‘loyal employees in any company create loyal customers, who in turn create happy shareholders’. It’s a win-win situation for all parties.
4. Be empathetic
Once seen as a weakness it is now the best quality to express as a modern leader. Many female leaders have mastered the ability of being empathetic compared to male counterparts. As organisations become more complex, it is crucial for a leader to have an innate ability to show understanding to different members of the team. When people hear the word ‘boss’, especially in Asia, it rings a sense of fear, and panic in them because they fear in making mistakes or being scolded.
Henry Ford, once said that if there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put oneself in another person’s place and to see things from his or her point of view –as well as from one’s own. An empathetic leader has the ability to acknowledge that everyone sees the world through different perspectives, and we all have different capabilities refraining from passing judgement but showing empathy is crucial to modern day management.
An empathetic leader is able to relate to and openly communicate with their team and understand when they are struggling. Leading a team with empathy, is crucial in gaining employee loyalty and retention, better teamwork and creativity and more workplace harmony therefore building up their team for success.
5. Master communication
Being able to communicate effectively is an important life skill that everyone needs to possess even more so as a leader. It will help us to understand others and be understood which in return avoids any misunderstandings within the team. As women, we are multitasked in balancing various roles such as being a parent, a spouse, a child, a grandchild and a friend which allows us to perceive different views of audiences ranging from all generations. This will be of great help especially when marketing a product or service. The ability to persuade various clients and gaining their trust to invest in your product or service will easier to accomplish due to our competency in communicating effectively.
6. Keep pushing forward
The corporate world is a tough, competitive and sometimes unforgiving environment and throughout our careers we will inevitably suffer highs and lows from being the best performing executive to being passed up for that promotion you have been working towards for the last year. Dealing with adversity is just as important as being able to enjoy the successes and is a hallmark of great leaders. A report conducted byA ccenture entitled Women Leaders and Resilience: found that female leaders as slightly more resilient than men and are to develop resilience as a core skill set.
This is critical as companies face uncertain times with the speed of technological and market disruption. The ability to overcome challenges and turn them into opportunities - may be the new criterion for professional advancement. So in order to build up more strong women leaders, we should keep inspiring generations of women in the future to not give up and always believe in themselves. As the saying goes, if you put your heart and effort into something, then the only thing you will receive is results.
As we can see, these six strategies are easier said than done but nothing is impossible if we put our minds into it. You have everything it takes to become that great leader that lies within follow these six strategies add your own steps and you will be well on your way to leading and inspiring others.
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Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing. By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career. The world is your oyster, and it starts with you.
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About half the sky
half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women connecting you to career opportunities at companies that care. Providing you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the rapidly changing workplace.