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6 Tips for Fearless Leadership for Women

6 Tips for Fearless Leadership for Women

by Sara J. Baker, Ed.D.

The question of how to be a good leader is one that has been asked for centuries. For women, this question becomes even more complicated. Competing expectations of how women should behave, combined with the expectations of how leaders should behave, make it tough to find your footing as a woman in leadership. But fear not! Here are 6 ways to develop your fearless leadership as a woman.

Talk to your employees about what they want and need

Leaders need to know what their employees want and need, but it is vital for women in leadership positions. Women are often expected to behave differently than men, making it difficult to be decisive or set high expectations with our teams while also being seen as a caring leader that people can talk to if they have any personal problems. When you ask your employees what they want from the company or how things are going at work, you’re actively listening and taking an interest in their lives outside of just what goes on at the office.

This builds trust between them and you which will help when tough decisions have to be made or something needs improvement.

Be honest with yourself and others about who you are as a leader

Being honest with yourself is important for fearless leadership, but it’s also just good life advice. Being confident in your abilities will help you be more successful in your career, no matter what that field happens to be. When we spend time in introspection and really knowing ourselves, we are better able to capitalize on our strengths and plan around our weaknesses, so that we can be confident in our ability to lead others.

On top of being confident in your abilities as a leader, it’s also important to have confidence in yourself. Think about the times that you’ve been scared or nervous and how difficult those situations were for you. Having fearlessness will help you be more decisive when tough decisions need to be made because not only are you comfortable with who you are as a leader, you’re comfortable in your own skin. You know what you can do, which will help build the confidence that it takes for fearless leadership.

Be care not to be overly critical of yourself. Being honest means that you silence any bogus negative self-talk that is creating self-doubt. Too often, as women, we interpret “let’s be honest” as “let’s think of any less than perfect thing we have ever done and beat ourselves up for it.”

That’s not honesty, that’s sabotage and we do have the power to stop it.

Being authentic in our conversations and interactions with our teams will help us to establish credibility as a leader who is able to handle the hard decisions that come with leadership, while also maintaining our sense of empathy and our ability to communicate and encourage our team.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses, but Develop Your Strengths

To be your best as a fearless female leader, focus first on your strengths. Know what they are and recognize how they have helped you to be successful and grow as an individual and as a leader.

It’s good to know what our weaknesses are, also, but be sure not to dwell or use the idea of those weaknesses to convince yourself that you won’t be successful. Everyone has weaknesses and if you check out the Gallup approach to helping people grow by focusing on their strengths, you’ll see that you are far more likely to see a strong impact and rock-start results if you spend time developing your strengths and the strengths of your team instead of focusing on weaknesses.

Fearless leadership doesn’t mean that you make foolhardy decisions or rush into action without consideration for the risks, instead it means that you don’t let the naysayers and the criticizers slow you down from making strong decisions in difficult circumstances.

You can’t put in what was never there, but you can take a natural, enjoyable strength and nurture it to help someone become exceptional.

Fearless Leadership for Women

Give credit where it is due, but also take responsibility for mistakes

There are many things women leaders have to deal with on top of being a good leader – they are expected to be likable, but not a pushover and they have to be assertive but not bossy. Depending on the culture of your workplace, you may experience that women are given more credit than is due because of the assumption that women are less capable than men in leadership roles. However, also likely that your contributions will be overlooked or discounted if the culture is one that doesn’t value women in leadership roles.

Regardless of your workplace culture, you can be a positive role model for all those in leadership, and earn respect from your team, by including your team (and your colleagues) when giving credit for projects that go well if they have earned it. When you give credit where it’s due, your team will feel more comfortable being honest about their weaknesses, knowing that they’ll get some of the credit for any successes as well.

And your ability to stay positive and model good leadership behaviors for those around you may even influence your supervisors to change their ways for the better.

Have confidence in yourself – believe that you can do this!

It might seem like a simple tip but believing in yourself is one of the most important factors for fearless leadership. You can learn everything you need to know about being a leader, but if you don’t have the confidence in yourself that it takes to lead others, your capabilities will never be fully realized. If you doubt yourself, other people are not going to think any more of your abilities either.

If you feel you need some positive reinforcement to help remember how fabulous you are, then subscribe to social media pages that share positive leadership quotes or reinforcing quotes for women to be kind to themselves.

Don’t let Imposter Syndrome overtake you. If you are in a leadership position, then you are there because you earned it. And if you aspire to be in a leadership position, you know that promoting up takes a ton of work and dedication. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into negative thoughts that devalue how hard you have worked to get to where you are. You earned this. You can do this.

Get support from other women leaders

It can be a challenge to find mentors or colleagues who will support your leadership style. However, there are so many women leaders out there that you might have an easier time finding a mentor if you look for other women in similar positions as yourself and ask them how they got where they are today. If you can’t find someone in your workplace, then try a professional social media site like LinkedIn. Chances are that you’ll find a support system if you’re open to it. In the end, having this type of support will help build your confidence and hone in on what works and doesn’t work for your style.

Just a note – some of my mentors at critical times in my leadership career have been men. They were supportive and helped me grow a great deal professionally. So, of course, there is nothing wrong with having a male mentor. Just know that a woman who has been through some of the same unique challenges you face can be helpful and supportive in a different kind of way.

Are you ready for fearless leadership?

As an entrepreneur, the fearlessness of others has always intrigued me because it takes a lot of courage and confidence for people who are starting their own businesses or taking charge of teams where there isn’t much support. That’s why I love writing about fearless leadership; it takes a lot of guts to be the leader when you know that there are people who might not appreciate your willingness to take charge and make decisions. It can also be tough in this day and age with social media, where everything is shared so openly and you might worry that your fearless decisions will be broadcast for the world to see.

However, if you’re up to the challenge of fearless leadership and are willing to put yourself out there on a daily basis, embracing who you are as a leader will help others embrace your decisions.

It takes courage but it is possible

Still not convinced? Think about some of the top CEOs in America or any other country for that matter. Women are leading companies that have thousands of employees, so it is possible to be a fearless leader and be successful of small teams and large.

It might not come easily at first but with time and practice, you’ll find yourself being more decisive when tough decisions need to be made because you know what works for your team members as well as the company in general. You won’t second guess yourself as much and you’ll feel more confident about the decisions that need to be made.

With this newfound confidence, your team will respect you for it and so will everyone else who has a stake in your company’s success!

Being a woman in today’s society is not easy when it comes to being the leader

While many challenges come with being a female who wants to lead, there are also many strengths that women have as leaders. I’m happy to see other women out there who aren’t afraid of being a leader because it gives me hope for the future and shows how far we’ve come in terms of equality, even if we still have a long way to go.

Want to learn more about how to lead with fearlessness? Click here.

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Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is an advocate for positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees and leaders face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is a thought leader in the area of positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

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