Being a great leader is a main professional goal that seems desirable and attainable to the vast majority of women nowadays. For example, according to Women’s Leadership study published by KPMG, 64 percent of women aspire to be a top-level leader in an organization in the future, and more than 50 percent want to be a board member.
Despite having a strong desire to lead, many women are hesitant about taking a leadership role: the same women who aspire to lead also reported they have difficulties envisioning themselves in a leadership position in the future. In fact, 59 percent (six in 10 women!) said it was hard for them to even see themselves as a leader.
If you’re having the same doubts, you should definitely check out at how you can become a more effective and confident leader yourself.
Get the Training You Need
While there are natural born leaders, according to Behavioral theories, most leaders today are developed through extensive training,
When asked about what training they needed to move to leadership roles, the participants of the aforementioned Women’s Leadership study said they needed:
- Leadership training (57 percent)
- Decision making training (48 percent)
- Networking (47 percent)
- Critical thinking (46 percent)
There are many opportunities to gain leadership skills such as online courses, so use them to improve your chance of moving into a leadership role when you’re ready.
For example, you can start by exploring free leadership courses on Coursera.
Develop Listening Skills
Successful women leaders know how to listen. Jessanne Collins, editor-in-chief of Mental Floss Magazine, had this to say about the importance of this skill:
“Leadership is mostly about listening. You can’t create a team that thrives if you can’t respond to what each member needs.”
According to Collins, the best leaders are great communicators because they obtain maximum information they need to do their job effectively. For example, by listening to every member of the team, a leader can develop a proper understanding of their colleague’s personalities and respond to them in a way that improves communication and, therefore, teamwork.
“One great way to get more participation from your team and develop listening skills at the same time is to introduce a weekly meeting,” says Dwight Johnson, a leadership coach from Assignment Helper. “It would serve as a place to brainstorm, strengthen team mentality, improve teamwork, and, of course, improve listening skills.”
Forget about Your Ego
True women leaders know how important it is to leave their egos at the door and focus on what gets the job done. Even if this means doing tasks that are “beneath” them. You see, being a leader doesn’t mean that you’re above all others, so you don’t do things like making coffee for your team or helping them to do paperwork.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite: as a leader, you must pay attention to the unique talents of each person and make better use of them by taking some work off their plate. Ultimately, you’ll see that your team has more respect for you because you’re willing to get your hands dirty and make them feel appreciated and valued.
Pursue Your Ambition
According to Washington Post, roughly the same ratio of female and male executives have the desire to reach a top management position. Moreover, 83 percent of women reported having a strong desire to advance to the next level of their organizations.
So, it’s completely okay to be comfortable while displaying emotional and behavioral characteristics of ambition. Remember: there are lots of women pursuing their ambitions and reaching top positions, why not be one of them? A good start would be to enroll to effective leadership and executive training that’ll change the way you think about ambition.
Learn How to Manage Your Emotions
The way you react to situations will have a profound impact on the perception others have of you. For example, if a leader freaks out after hearing that their company lost a big client, it can create a distance between them and their followers. So, to make sure that the perception is positive, you must learn the skills of flexibly enduring the ups and downs of your professional life.
Women process negative emotions quite differently than men, and “are more likely to develop major depression, anxiety disorder, and PTSD, all of which are related to emotional dysregulation,” says Dr. Annette Milnik of the University of Basel while describing the results of one of her recent studies on emotions.
For you, this means that you may be at increased risk of developing these unwanted outcomes if you face significant stress but fail to develop emotional intelligence, i.e., the ability to keep that kind of emotion in check.
This means learning:
- Not to be discouraged if a negative situation doesn’t change overnight
- How to keep emotions in check
- How to cope with negativity
Remember: like all forms of self-improvement, learning how to be a great leader is a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep Your Promises
If a leader makes promises she can’t keep, her credibility will suffer big-time. That’s why you should learn how to always keep your promises to other people, even if it’s downright painful for you. To develop this habit and maintain your credibility as a leader, begin early and practice keeping promises with anyone you can, including family members and friends.
Master Your Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
If you master these immensely important qualities, they will improve the quality of your leadership.
When you effectively utilize problem solving and critical thinking skills you:
- Avoid quick judgements
- Rely on reason rather than emotion
- Consider evidence before making a decision
- Are willing to question assumptions
- Able to disregard personal bias and prejudice
Last but not least, the dress code. Forget about the old “dress to impress” nonsense because it’s time to dress to influence others. This means ensuring that your appearance is consistent with your professional and personal brand.
Here are leader style tips to follow:
- Use makeup strategically. There are studies that found that makeup sends a strong message about credibility to both women and men. For example, it is recommended to avoid dramatic looks such as smokey eyes and false eyelashes and instead go for more neutral looks.
- Think about color. “All shades of red, preferably a blue-red, and black convey leadership and power,” says women’s image consultant and wardrobe stylist Michele Oppenheimer.
Quality over quantity. Consider investing in quality clothes that will serve you for years to come. Only quality clothing has perfect tailoring and exquisite fabric that is always fashionable.
Over to You
Successful women leaders have these skills, and you can also develop them. Let the tips above be useful to you to empower yourself to seize a great leadership position!
Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also Lucy has her own blog Prowritingpartner.com where you can check her last publications. If you’re interested in working with Lucy , you can find her on Twitter.