Over the years I have met many fantastic women leaders. I lean forward to hear their every word and am always grateful to spend a spare hour with them over a cup of coffee or on a walk. I have also met some not-so-great women leaders. I try not to wince as their shrill voice cuts across an audience and am a little relieved when I can escape. How can you ensure you fall into the first category and not the second?
Watch out for these seven ways you can damage your leadership as a woman:
1. Allow “It’s because I’m a woman!“ to slip into your vocabulary. [Tweet this] The subtle thinking can slip into our lives when we’re not paying attention. Any criticism is perceived as discrimination due to gender. Take out the gender wild card by asking yourself how you can be a more effective leader. How can I be a better communicator with others? Is there training I need to pursue through book, blogs, or events that can help me grow? When you’re a great leader, gender has a tendency to fall to the wayside.
2. Be unaware of your Biology. [Tweet this] As women, we need to acknowledge our bodies are different than men’s. We need to face simple biological realities such as our monthly hormone fluxes, even post-menopausal states. Sometimes our hormones and biology present some minor obstacles we climb over. Set aside some time to see if you are aware and taking care of your body properly to make sure your biology doesn’t get the best of you.
3. Let your momma bear instincts maul others. [Tweet this] For many women, we have a very deep sense of injustice. This is a beautiful God-given gift used to meet the needs of many around us. However, sometimes we need to place healthy boundaries around this gift so we don’t end up hurting those we long to help. When you feel momma bear rising up, don’t react to the injustice you are seeing, but respond out of wisdom, grace, and love. You are not denying the need nor are you squelching your feelings, but you are placing healthy parameters around your God-given gift.
4. Permit emotions to take over your leadership. [Tweet this] Some women and men feel emotions on a deeper and stronger level. The trick to feeling emotions to this proportion is to feel them without letting them hijack your leadership. Oftentimes, women in ministry will receive a bad reputation from others in the past who have let their emotions take over. We need to acknowledge our emotions while continuing to walk in winsome ways.
5. Give up being a woman. [Tweet this] To be a great woman leader doesn’t mean you have to suppress your gender. As an alternative, highlight your gender by accentuating the best aspects of who God created you to be. God created women with special sensibilities, sensitivities, and distinct views you bring to the table. Celebrate these facets of your womanhood. On the other hand, as women we can become shrill and our tones can have an edge. Instead of drawing those we lead closer, a sharp tone cuts while pushing them away.
6. Be overly relationship driven. [Tweet this] I was recently part of a church where several women were leading a production meeting. They took the first 20 minutes to connect relationally with other fellow leaders. The next 20 minutes were spent talking about others in the church who were or were not relationally connected. By the time the women leaders were finished, half of our allotted time was already spent. While being tuned into the relationship thermostat is an awesome skill, over sensitivity to the point of never being productive is a problem for a leader. This may call for some rearranging and fancy footwork until you find a system that works best for you. Can you set longer times for production meetings? Can you save networking until the end of the day?
7. Try to become superwoman. [Tweet this] Sometimes as a leader, regardless of gender, we try to do too much. This is particularly true when we find ourselves delegating assignments and then taking them back as we find they would’ve turned out better if we did them ourselves. After holding onto responsibilities for so long, we find our fingers have forgotten how to let go. Walk alongside the delegatee to as you watch God develop the gifts he gave them. At times, he may choose to use failure as a maturing agent. As you entrust projects to others, trust God with the rest.
What women in your life encouraged you to be a better leader?