6 Qualities of Effective Women Leaders

 

effective women leaders

Do leadership traits differ between men and women? No one can say definitively, but it remains clear that women executives often face more difficult hurdles than men on the way to becoming CEOs and business leaders.

Here’s a look at six qualities that successful women leaders typically possess and which help them realize their leadership potential.

1. A belief in oneself. For both men and women, there’s a fine line between healthy self-confidence and an oversized, “look at me” ego. Certainly, an unshakeable belief in oneself is an essential trait for women leaders—not in the sense that they have to prove they’re better than everyone around them, but rather being able to forge a culture where no one seeks to undermine or demoralize others at their own expense.

In fact, women with a deep sense of self-confidence are often more inclined to accept critiques and feedback on their leadership styles.

2. A willingness to nurture. In the frequently cutthroat world of business, “nurturing” can appear to be a soft or even disposable trait.

Not so, says performance coach Dawniel Winningham. She contends that a woman’s “nurturing spirit is often confused with being lackadaisical or an inability to hold people accountable which is not the case.” In her view, “being a nurturer, having a sense of being fair and just, and use of our women’s intuition are some of our strongest traits.”

3. A focus on achieving one’s goals. The most effective women in business maintain a clear vision of what they wish to achieve—both in the short-term and over the long haul. Aspects of this vision may change depending upon circumstances, but the commitment to reaching one’s objectives remains unwavering.

This is frequently illustrated by a woman leader’s drive to balance her professional obligations with her life outside of work. Maintaining this precarious balance requires creativity and flexibility, additional traits demonstrated by effective leaders (of either gender).

TAB member Kris Derrig, president of Action Machined Products, describes her own personal journey towards a more balanced life (with the help of her Advisory Board).

4. Building and leading teams. It probably can’t be said that women are better at developing relationships and building teams than their male counterparts. However, they can make use of their intuitive natures to discern conflict within a team—and then seek to resolve that conflict—as well as follow their instincts to favor a team approach, rather than asking an individual to take on too large a challenge.

5. Willingness to question the status quo. Strong female leaders frequently feel the need to challenge “the way business has always been done.” They don’t necessarily accept a traditional approach to strategy and may be more willing than some male leaders in pushing back against convention when they feel strongly about finding a more effective solution.

6. Not afraid to ask for help. Of course, broad generalizations are to be viewed skeptically, but women leaders often feel less inhibited about reaching out for input and guidance when necessary. They understand the limitations of trying to do everything themselves and (as noted previously with the quality of nurturing) see great value in empowering others to assume greater responsibilities. They’re also unafraid to seek the insights and feedback of other business leaders.

As long-time TAB member Lynne Gastineau, president of Gastineau Log Homes, recalls, “I knew I was going to need help if I wanted to grow the company and meet growing customer demand. Managing the staff and dealing with growth would require help. I saw TAB as a way to help me through that process.”

If you think being part of a group that offers consistent, insightful advice makes sense for your business, contact a local TAB board to learn more about membership.

 

How to Cope with Negative People

10 tips for working with negative people (2)

By and large, CEOs and business owners are positive by nature. They have to be. A belief in their own abilities and in the positive traits of those around them is key to succeeding in their professional endeavors.

Inevitably, however, business leaders will encounter negative individuals on the way, people who feel pessimistic about their own futures and (intentionally or not) tend to introduce a toxic element in the workplace. There’s a reason why the saying, “Misery loves company,” has resonated throughout the ages.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be feel trapped by negative people or obliged to deal with them on a regular basis. Here are strategies and action steps you can take to minimize the influence of negativity in your professional life:

negative people, coping with negative people1. Know how to recognize signs of negativity. Some signs are too clear-cut to miss, such as chronic complaining or refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions. Other damaging qualities are more subtle but no less insidious. Work on broadening your understanding of how negative people tick and the warning signs of their damaging attitudes.

“The causes of bizarre, destructive or irrational behavior can be many,” observes business owner Liam Massaubi. “Learn to identify toxic people and avoid at all costs even if it is a short-term loss for business.”

2. Alter your responses to negative people. There’s not much you can do about what’s shaped a negative person’s outlook. What you can control is your own response when encountering such people, including:

Set boundaries. Only in rare circumstances should you feel obligated to remain in conversation with a toxic individual. Most of the time, keep your interactions short and then be on your way.

Avoid arguments. Just as the 2016 election cycle demonstrated, some topics are simply too poisonous to discuss with others. “A negative person likely has very staunch views and isn’t going to change that just because of what you said,” notes life coach Celestine Chua. If you choose to engage in such a conversation, “give constructive comments, and if the person rebuts with no signs of backing down, don’t engage further.”

Take responsibility for your attitude. Ultimately, it’s how you react to a negative person that informs the outcome of the encounter. Some people have the uncanny ability to detect the good in everyone they meet. This is a useful trait for business leaders to develop in themselves.

3. Practice empathy. In some cases, you can mitigate the effects of a negative person by attempting to understand why they behave as they do. If a person who’s normally upbeat by nature becomes ill-tempered and difficult to deal with, look for possible underlying causes, i.e., problems in their job or personal life. If you can get a sense of what’s bothering them, you might be able to lighten the mood or even offer some support or assistance. This can dramatically change a bad situation to a positive one.

4. Get rid of chronically negative employees. Your company’s workplace culture is a key element in attracting and retaining top talent. Recognizing that even one chronically negative employee can poison the well, act quickly to change that individual’s behavior—or be willing to let him go. “In the hunt for talent, businesses can’t afford to lose valued workers because the work environment is dysfunctional, fear-based or insufficiently appreciative of their contributions.”

Most importantly, practice being consistently positive in your own outlook. There’s no law that states CEOs must be brusque, ill-mannered or otherwise act in a negative manner. A friendly, optimistic attitude is infectious (in the best possible sense) and also makes for a longer, healthier and more satisfying life.

Having a network of forward-looking colleagues also helps influence business leaders in a positive way. You’ll find just such an upbeat network when you join a TAB Board.