Women form an equally important part of the workforce as men but are woefully underrepresented in the upper echelons of management.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the 2015 Fortune 500 list of the country’s largest companies had less than 5% headed by a woman. But almost half the labor force comprises females.
The workforce of the S&P 500 is composed of 45% women.
While there may be many reasons for women not rising to the top in companies, lack of an appropriate leadership style is definitely one of them. Many women struggle to find the correct balance between being excessively dominating and not being aggressive enough.
If women are to become effective leaders, how can they determine which are the most appropriate personality traits to be adopted?
There is no complete answer to this question. Following some of these steps may help.
Believe in yourself
As a woman manager, are you convinced that you are as good at your job as your male counterparts? If you are as capable as them, there is no reason that you should hide it.
Subordinates will respect you for your knowledge and effectiveness in your job. Learn to highlight your achievements at the correct opportunities.
Of course, this does not mean adopting a loud and a self-aggrandizing attitude. As you become known for the quality of your work and for your achievements, your team and peers will start accepting you as a strong leader.
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to develop an effective leadership style is to adopt the practices followed by a senior manager in your company.
In most cases, you will have to find a female manager who has leadership and management traits that you admire. Using the techniques that a male executive finds appropriate may not work for you.
Given the shortage of women in senior positions in many companies, you may have to look outside your firm for a role model. You can consider joining a trade body or an industry organization to find the most appropriate mentor.
Observe your mentor’s behavior closely, especially how she reacts in stressful or difficult situations. It is important to develop your own leadership style, but utilizing what you learn from a successful manager to mold your own behavior can be a good starting point.
Maintain a professional attitude at work
It is essential that you establish a close relationship with your team members, but you should be careful not to go overboard and discuss matters that clearly do not belong in the workplace. Maintain a distinct boundary between your office and your personal life.
This will stand you in good stead and help to establish your credentials as a mature leader.
Be a role model In your endeavor to adopt the most effective leadership style, it will be useful to remember what the respected management guru, Peter Drucker, had to say about the subject, “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.”