As woman in the workplace it’s hard not to let the double standards and stereotypes of women in power effect how you interact with co-workers and your approach to leadership. According to the Pew Research Center Report, Women and Leadership: Public Says Women are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist, the majority of Americans believes women are every bit as capable of being good political leaders as men and the same can be said of their ability to dominate the corporate boardroom. Yet we still see an alarming gap in the number of men vs. women at the top in business and government. Why? The research suggests that the double standard of women being required to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves and a general feeling that the electorate and corporate America are just not ready to put more women in top leadership positions impede equality improvement despite current opinions on ability.
Over the summer Brookings Executive Education (BEE) welcomed alumnae and friends of the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) for “A Conversation on Women’s Leadership” to discuss the challenges many of us face.
WLN alumnae focused on three key factors from the BEE program that have truly helped them face the challenges head on and develop their leadership styles.
- Lead from your strengths – We have this crazy desire to be perfect at everything. Part of it may be from our own fears and insecurities about the unwritten rule that we have to do more than our male counterparts just to be viewed as equal, however the reality is that we will never be perfect in EVERY way. Dr. Donald Clifton, the “father of strengths psychology,” found that strength is mastery created when an individual’s most powerful talents are refined and combined with relevant skills and knowledge. So instead of focusing all of your energy on your weaknesses, use that energy to focus and improve on what comes naturally.
- Create a professional network – Often the informal activities in the workplace take place during inconvenient times or let’s face it, we just want to go home. BUT, these activities are important and we have to take the time to use these activities to build a network of mentors and supporters (both male and female).
- Take care of yourself – You have to be good to yourself to be the most effective leader you can be. We are often our own worst enemy. We are extremely critical of ourselves, skip meals, miss out on sleep, etc. all in the name of getting the job done. Despite what we tell ourselves the truth is that if we aren’t our best selves we can’t do our best work.
To learn more about WLN and the upcoming Fall Cohort please click here.
Kimberly Hall is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.