For centuries women have made superb leaders–but they haven’t always been given credit for their accomplishments. Traditionally, women have created change behind the scenes. But if ever there was a time for women to step out from behind the curtain, that time is now. Here are nine tips to help you step confidently and courageously into your power as a leader.
Articulate your leadership vision
Write down what you want people to say about you when you leave a room. Fill in the blank, “She’s a leader who ___________.” Be as specific as possible. Include what you want to do, how you want to do it, and what others will get out of doing it with you. Then take action.
Develop your strategy
Create a strategy for addressing a challenge before diving in. Avoid the tendency to approach everything with a high sense of urgency or to jump to action before thinking through a situation. Strategy takes time.
We’ve all heard the saying, “A woman has to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.” Don’t let it guide your actions. Feeling that you have to be perfect constricts your strategic thinking and willingness to take risks.
Get to the point. Some women have the tendency to use more words than needed. Keep in mind the maxim, “short sounds confident.” Begin your communications with the one statement you would want others to remember.
Don’t be afraid of risks
You’ve got to exercise your risk muscle. You can do this by taking small personal risks and learning that the results are rarely catastrophic. The next time someone asks for your opinion, and you know it’s contrary to theirs, voice your ideas rather than taking the path of least resistance by keeping quiet. This will help you gradually get beyond your comfort zone.
Asking these three simple questions will yield a wealth of information: What do I do well that I should continue doing? What can I do more of to be even more effective? What can I do less of to be even more effective?
Step up for public speaking
If you want to become really good at influencing others, seize every opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and speak before large and small groups. Also consider joining Toastmasters International.
Get them on the same page
Discuss team goals and your expectations about teamwork at every opportunity. Define team “rules” that create a safe environment for everyone to speak up, be honest, and contribute to their maximum capability. They should be developed with the team, not for it.
Get the edge
Many women are good at influencing others by building collaborative teams. Combine that with more direct and assertive communication, deliberate decision-making, and an increased understanding of the political landscape of your company culture, and you’ll be the leader you were destined to become.
To be a strong leader, it is necessary to distinguish sound advice from “common wisdom” that may not actually be true. Here are a few myths about leadership to steer clear of.
Leaders have “powerful” personalities
This need not be the case. Qualities like an openness to collaboration, decisiveness, and positivity are more important.
They make all the decisions
At the end of the day, the leader has the final call. But effective leaders seek out feedback from those who report to them. The decision making process should be a team effort.
They are the ones at the top
Yes, CEOs and other executives are important leaders. But leadership can be expressed at any level by supporting your co-workers, setting a positive example, and creatively solving problems that arise.