The word "equal" is often mistakenly interpreted as the "same." As women, we want equal rights, but that doesn't mean we are the same as men. In fact, our biology and experiences have given us strengths and leadership styles that are substantially different from the male-driven norm. And that difference has been used as justification for why female leadership, and women in general, are minimized and under-valued in our society. With too few women in corporate management positions, it's difficult to find successful models of female leadership. Often, getting to the top of the food chain means women have compromised themselves by disavowing their natural, inherent strengths. And for what? They've abandoned themselves (and other women) to adopt traditional, male-driven definitions of leadership in some misguided effort to "belong." Hello Imposter Syndrome! Authenticity is imperative. And self-knowledge is the key to showing up, standing out, playing by your own rules and making bank in ways that don't require compromise. Female leaders (in truth rather than title) are typically considered outliers. And again, in our society where difference is used to minimize rather than elevate, it is our responsibility to view, claim and own our outlier position as one of our many strengths. Our difference gives us the opportunity to game the existing system to our advantage and make positive change from the inside and out. We must value ourselves and model it for others so that we can never be minimized again. We must demonstrate the power of relationship-oriented female leadership versus the control-based, hierarchical definition of leadership that is prevalent in our society. We must insist on equity and equality. These essential traits of female leadership are based on my experience in Corporate America and my brand + business coaching work with female executives, entrepreneurs and business owners, who are at the forefront of making positive change for us all.
Female leaders are more collaborative and team-oriented than their male colleagues. They focus on building consensus and embrace diverse perspectives.
Women in leadership positions prioritize empathy and understanding, which also drives a dedication to building deeper relationships with colleagues and team members.
Female leaders prioritize inclusivity and diversity, working to create a workplace culture that values and supports people from all backgrounds and identities.
Female leaders in the U.S. lean into resilience when faced with external challenges and setbacks. They are aware of what they're feeling. They use that awareness to quickly re-focus on what's most important and bounce back with determination and grace.
Women in leadership positions value innovation and creativity. That open-mindedness invites new ideas, as well as new approaches to, and opportunities for, problem-solving and decision-making. They don't need to be "right" because they trust that the creative process will produce new, previously unimagined learning, insights and opportunities that will influence and inform what the desired outcome really is and how it can be achieved.
Women in leadership positions are strong communicators. They understand people use feelings, as much as rationale, when receiving and applying new information. They use a relationship-based communication style to convey their ideas and vision which increases connection and engagement.
Female leaders demonstrate high levels of integrity and ethics by prioritizing honesty and transparency in all of their actions and decisions.
Women in leadership positions are purpose-driven. They work to build a better future for their organizations and communities. And it is from that purpose, they create a clear vision for positive change, as well as their strategy for accomplishing it. That connection to purpose as a driving force, delivers the clarity of vision necessary for engaging others, deepening relationship and improving overall effectiveness.