5 Ways to Become an Authentic Female Leader and Why it Matters
Why are there so few female leaders compared to their male counterparts? One factor could be that women have a fear of being authentic - of asserting their boundaries, values, beliefs and leadership styles. This reservation is due to a history of women confronting challenges such as gender stereotypes, discrimination, and the balancing act between their professional and personal lives. Yet authenticity in leadership, especially for women, is not just a personal asset but a transformative force within organizations and societies and staying true to oneself is not just about personal integrity; it's a strategic imperative.
Read on to discover 5 ways female leaders can resist the urge to comply with policies, expectations, practices, and environments that are in opposition to their needs and instead, stay true to the successful, intelligent female leaders they are.
1) Build Strong Connections:
Having a robust network of mentors, peers, and allies can provide the necessary support and advice when facing challenging situations. When one opens themselves up to ask questions, this network can offer different perspectives, encouragement, and strategies to handle difficult scenarios. As a result of this genuine support network, female leaders create an environment where they can stay true to themselves by uncovering their values, sensitivities and strengths. On the other side of the coin, authentic leadership involves taking time to understand and share the feelings of one's co-workers and other key players in their lives. So as authentic leaders who practice empathy, women will be surrounded by engaged, productive and effective people who feel heard and valued.
2) Self-Reflection and Self-Awareness:
Developing a strong sense of self-awareness is key. Female leaders should regularly reflect on their values, beliefs, and what authenticity means to them. The dissonance caused by living an inauthentic or divided life can be a significant energy drain for women executives, and may be a factor in why some women opt out of the leadership track2. So understanding one's own values, strengths and weaknesses allows for more authentic leadership where women are able to embrace a wider range of leadership characteristics needed to run an organization.
3) Knowledge is power:
Staying informed and educated about one's rights and the legal aspects of workplace policies can empower women leaders to challenge practices that are unfair or discriminatory. Knowledge is power, and understanding organizational policies and laws can provide a strong foundation for negotiating and advocating for oneself. Being legally knowledgeable helps in aligning one's leadership style and decisions with ethical and legal standards. This promotes authenticity, as leaders can navigate complex situations without compromising their values or the law. Importantly as well, further knowledge in leadership creates confidence and the ability to be authentic with development programs address important women’s leadership topics and equip individual women to recognize and embrace the themes that will enable them to thrive.
4) Embracing Vulnerability:
Authenticity often requires vulnerability. Sharing one's true self, including doubts and fears, can be a powerful way to connect with others and build trust. This doesn’t mean exposing oneself unnecessarily, but rather being genuine in interactions. Being successful isn't about being perfect or always in control, but about being willing to learn and grow quickly, especially in the face of adversity and challenges. Openness and vulnerability allow you to expand your influence and inspire others to do the same.
5) Intentional Actions:
It is important for women leaders to articulate their thoughts and beliefs clearly and assertively. This involves having open and honest conversations about their needs and expectations, and how they align with organizational goals and culture. Also referred to as “Agency” which is the intentional actions taken toward achieving a desired goal. It’s about taking control of your career, being your own pilot, and feeling as if you’re shaping your job, your leadership style, and your life. In order to be authentic leaders, our every action should have a clear purpose behind it and be in alignment with our values and goals.
To learn more about how to kickstart your leadership journey, join us at Public Sector Network's Unlocking Potential: Emerging Women Leaders in Government. Register for this unmissable training session at Unlocking Potential: Emerging Women Leaders in Government
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