According to Gallup, employees with female managers are more engaged than those with male managers. And yet, even though women are half the population, only 33% of U.S. employees have a female boss.
It’s clear that women have a lot to contribute to leadership. We spoke with some female leaders about qualities that they consider vital for their positions, and here’s what they told us.
Shalyn Dever, Cofounder and Director of Technology for digital marketing firm Chatter Buzz Media, advises, “A proactive approach to learning new things, especially in the evolving tech industry, is essential to leadership. I make sure to stay on top of inbound marketing trends and SEO strategies to keep my business moving forward.”
Ashley Cisneros Mejia, Cofounder and Director of Communications at Chatter Buzz Media, says, “For any woman in a leadership position, the ability to adapt and be flexible will ensure you lead with a clear mind. In order for your company to grow, you must adapt to changes quickly and be open to take it in another direction.”
#3 Able to negotiate
Business consultant CarolSankar shares, “The skill that I developed that has truly led me to elevate in my business is the ability to negotiate rather than settle. I believe negotiating is a skill that many women do not have in leadership. But a clear and defined negotiating strategy where others know that I am confident about my position creates the tone that I will not settle.”
#4 Observant, #5 Focused, and #6 Self-confident
Life coach and entrepreneur Stacia Pierce notes that leadership skills constantly improve as you grow and learn. She gave us three basics to focus on:
Keep your ears and eyes open: Good leaders are sponges, soaking up ideas and feedback from their team.
Focus on your vision: Articulate a strategic plan that others can support and help bring to fruition.
Trust yourself: Leadership means taking risks to get to the next level. Use your intuition in the moment.
#7 Respected (even if you’re not liked), #8 Self-promoting, and #9 Outspoken
Attorney and policy consultant Avery Blank recommends three qualities that can make you uncomfortable — but are worth it.
Feel comfortable not being liked: I learned that it is more important to be respected than to be liked and that you can be a team player without being a doormat. This is not easy to get to, but establishing your integrity and boundaries at the very beginning is key.
You are your best advocate: It can be uncomfortable tooting your own horn. My advice is to frame your success as a success for the organization. Men generally have no qualms about promoting themselves, so women must make sure to share their successes and the triumphs of their female colleagues.
Feel confident that you can offer solutions and then do it: When you feel confident, you can do so much more. Strike that power pose or whatever it is that makes you feel powerful, and then channel that power to make recommendations that will help your organization.
Marina Byezhanova, Partner and Director of Candidate Experience at headhunting firm Pronexia, reminds us that great leadership qualities are not gendered. “There is a lot of conflicting advice available for women, ranging from embracing their 'natural' femininity to adopting the more 'masculine' traits. As someone who does not believe in differences between men and women, other than physiology, I urge women to look inward, find out what they stand for in terms of their value system as an individual, embrace it, and put it forward.
“When you are fully authentic, it does not matter if you wear stilettos and makeup or jeans with sneakers; it does not matter if you are an extrovert or introvert; whether your leadership style is authoritative or collaborative.”
We couldn’t agree more.
- Key Takeaways From 4 Women Leaders in Male-Dominated Industries
- The Leadership Qualities Employees Want — And How To Achieve Them