What I've Learned So Far
On my journey as a woman in leadership I have learned a few things that have helped me along. Some of them I’ve learned the hard way, some of them I’ve learned by observing others, and many of them purely by the grace of God.
1) Be yourself. Don’t try to be the woman that you admire. Don’t try to be what you think your employer wants you to be. Don’t try to be like the male leaders around you. You’ll waste so much time chasing the ideas of what you think you should be and neglecting to develop the unique gifts that God has given you. Confidently be you.
2) Don’t try to be ‘one of the boys’. There have been so many times where I have felt left out of the office chatter because the guys are talking fantasy football, the NBA finals or the round of golf they’ll be playing after work. There may be times that you have something to share, but don’t force it. Contribute only if you genuinely care. They know if you are trying too hard.
3) Accept that leadership may be lonely and find your network of support OUTSIDE of the office. You need people that will support you and encourage you, but don’t expect them to be your peers or superiors. In some rare occasions you may have a great support system in the office, but just don’t expect it. If it happens, it’s an extra blessing.
4) Understand that earning influence and respect as a leader takes time. You have to build trust and credibility. Sometimes this is especially challenging as a female because you may be leading men who are not used to female leadership. Don’t let this frustrate you. It may take longer than you would like it to, but I have found that if I am patient and consistent I eventually earn the influence I need to lead well.
What have you learned? What would you add to the list?