The complex area of leadership is one that can rarely be completely mastered. All you can hope to do is to understand your own style, skills and approaches and know what you can do to develop these further in order to be even more effective.
Women have fewer role models than men
As we have seen from our research, as well as from other studies, women have fewer role models than men and often find it challenging to compete on equal terms with their male colleagues for career success.
Additionally in our work at Ashridge we see some business people who hold leadership positions for some years before clearly understanding their style, strengths and strategies. So, our tips are:
6 Tips to career- & leadership-success
- Develop your leadership strategy – Know your skills, abilities and play to your strengths.
- Being tougher than the men! From our research, and our teaching and consultancy experience, we know of some organizations where senior women have felt it necessary to adopt existing male/macho leadership styles; their aim is to be as tough, if not tougher, than the men. We do think that it’s possible to take a different approach and perhaps the younger generation of women leaders will feel confi- dent enough to do this. We also would offer some advice – macho leadership should not be seen as an ‘ideal’, as it often creates a toxic culture of fear that is not healthy for the organization.
- Vision – Be clear about your personal leadership vision.
- Understand your preferred leadership style/s – and develop the skill to flex this when necessary. Be honest with yourself about your preferences, any limitations and work with others to get feedback.
- Be authentic – Be true to yourself and feel comfortable with your leadership style.
- Explore your leadership image with others – Ask for feedback about your style and impact and the impression you create.
Examples of successfull female leadership
Examples from the political arena where women have recognized the need to manage their image for greater success are:
- Margaret Thatcher used voice coaching to create a deeper sound to improve her performance when speaking in the crowded and noisy House of Commons chamber.
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was three times Prime Minister of Norway, when asked about her advice for young women politicians highlights the voice –
‘… one thing I’m sure about is that if you have a high-pitched voice, like many women have, that becomes thin and not easy to hear. You have to speak up. So I usually tell women: You must train your voice and you must use it by being heard. Because you are not going to be respected fully if people don’t sense that you speak with a certain authority.’The same is true for young businesswomen!