Women and Leadership
By Debra W. Gould, MS
It appears that more women than ever are stepping up to positions of leadership, but the path are still not as clear and unobstructed as one might hope. Alison Levine, who served on the faculty at the United States Military Academy at West Point, had a career on Wall Street and was team captain of the first American Women's Everest Expedition, said it's crucial to find the people, both men and women, who will help you gain access.
We share these tips for being (or supporting) a successful woman in leadership.
Heroism is a trait that is rarely associated with being female, but the acknowledgement that women leaders often behave heroically could move us closer to recognizing that women are natural leaders. If it sounds like we're making a connection between heroism and leadership-you're right. In a survey of people's beliefs about heroes and what heroism represents, eight traits were identified as predominant: smart, strong, resilient, selfless, caring, charismatic, reliable and inspiring.
Interestingly, when women executives were asked what qualities were present in women who have risen to the highest ranks in their organizations, many qualities echoed those heroic traits. They listed confidence, grace, diplomacy, tact, insight, listening with good eye contact, moral integrity, global intelligence, warmth, compassion, understanding, transparency, authenticity, passion for their work, competence, good communication skills, self-assurance, being welcoming, and seekers of the best outcome for all parties.
Women are entering the ranks of leadership in increasing numbers and are demonstrating that those qualities attributed to the female gender actually enhance productivity. If you are a woman who has gained access to a leadership position, hold on to those qualities that are the secret to your success. Here are a few more tips:
•Keep your eyes open for other talented people who may need a foot in the door. They may become an asset in your organization.
•Motivate others by showing personal appreciation and approval rather than neglect or disapproval.
•Continue to be sensitive to other people's feelings and be willing to provide interpersonal support. This can be as simple as a sympathetic look or a message of support.
•Communicate with staff so they know you are aware of the stress they are experiencing on the job.
•Clarify your ultimate goals and allow people on the day-to-day operational level the autonomy to work within those goals without micromanaging them.
•Monitor your staff as to their assignments and abilities. Match job assignments with workers allowing them to work at the top of their competency.
All of these qualities are attributes with which women leaders have excelled. You will find your supporters and your place.
Debra W. Gould, MS is the president of Debra Gould & Associates, Inc. based in New Orleans and provides management consulting and training services to commercial and government clients. Debra is one of the founders of The Ebony Speakers and co-author of the book, Real Women, Real Issues - Positive Collaborations For Business Success.
Debra can be reached at: (504) 244-6576
email: firstname.lastname@example.org and
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