Lead Like A Girl
This month’s Women in Leadership feature reintroduces some leadership theories I initially wrote about four years ago. They still ring very true to me as I contemplate my observations and workplace exchanges as an executive who works amongst many men and women in various industries. It’s time we start debunking the negative connotations that society – and, even we as women – hold towards females in leadership.
There’s no doubt you’ve heard someone accuse another person of doing something “like a girl” a time or two. Perhaps you’ve even said it about yourself or someone else. Most often, this is intended to be an analogy for doing something poorly. It’s meant to demonstrate weakness. Despite the negative undertone such statements hold, we as women are even guilty of saying it.
Consider this. What if much of what you think you know to be true about women in leadership is really not as accurate as you’ve been led to believe? What if, embracing the ways in which you act “like a girl” is just the ticket you need to be successful?
In my profession, I am fortunate to interact with a variety of women representing various industries who’ve climbed to high levels of success. As I look for common threads of leadership behaviors shared by these women, I notice some similar tendencies. I invite you to learn from the womanly strengths shared by many powerful women in business.
It all starts with learning how to lead like a girl. So, just how does a “girl” lead? Let’s check it out.
1. Girls value relationships.
Successful women unabashedly embrace their womanly tendency to value the relationship side of business, as opposed to showcasing displays of dominance. It is no secret that customers have a choice when it comes to whom they give their business. Similarly, strong candidates have a choice when it comes to where they work. By nurturing the cultivation of a genuine business-friendly relationship with customers and employees, a productive and enduring bond will form. As a result of this relationship nurturing instinct, connections are formed which stimulates a dedicated team of employees and a loyal customer base.
2. Girls have female intuition.
Research has shown that women are better at picking up subtle emotional messages being sent by others. This intuitive gift is due to a woman’s ability to quickly read facial expressions and emotions. Based on proven gender differences in non-verbal communicative abilities, this so-called female intuition is every powerful woman’s secret weapon compared to her male counterparts. However, successful women understand they can’t rely on intuition alone, and they’ve also mastered the art of backing up their hunches with data so their ideas are taken seriously.
3. Girls are imaginative.
Beginning at a young age, girls have a strong tendency to tackle life with a sense of colorful imagination and ambitious energy. As women, this evolves into a skill that is critical in a global business environment where we’re facing never-seen-before problems. Successful businesswomen tap into their imaginative roots to challenge the status quo, and fearlessly try the untried. As a result of this visionary leadership approach, opportunities for growth are seized and unthinkable results are realized. This imaginative way of doing business creates opportunities that a traditional leadership approach will likely never uncover.
4. Girls are collaborators.
According to a 2013 study led by the National Bureau of Economic Research, men tend to overestimate their abilities and downplay the capabilities of their co-workers. Conversely, the study found that women tend to collaborate with their peers when tackling a task. If you’ve ever sat back and watched a group of young children playing, you know it is easy to see the collaborative tendency of girls compared to boys. While the boys are wrestling in the corner to see who is the strongest, the girls are in the other corner working on developing a dance routine – together. As women in business, this tendency to ask for input and share ideas serves our organizations well. We’re able to see a complex situation from many angles, resulting in a more comprehensive and creative end-result.
Ladies, embrace the ways you lead and don’t look back.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a leadership communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for over 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, aerospace, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.