In order to understand how we can elevate women professionally, and also help to empower other women, it is crucial to be aware of some of the distinctive behaviors of women leaders.
According to a study conducted by Lee Hecht Harrison on how organizations can crack the code to make real progress, there are thirteen distinguishing behaviors and beliefs of women who advance professionally. The study evaluated common behaviors and traits of women who have risen to senior levels of leadership in their professional career, and the results were as follows [i]:
Having a Clear, Shared Career Path
According to Lee Hecht Harrison’s study, women are often not as clear or outspoken about their professional goals. However, as a woman, planning both long and short career goals is an integral step in your path to success.
You must be your own cheerleader! Successful women are highly self-aware. Women who advance are aware of their weaknesses but even more aware of their strengths. Strong women, who are leaders understand the value they can add, and make sure that this is something that is known.
The Ability to Influence Upward
It is not very challenging to influence downward within an organization. The challenge is influencing upward within your organization. Women leaders have the ability to influence decisions and ideas with senior level stakeholders.
Strong women leaders have the ability to distribute work, and work well in a team to keep an efficient workflow. The women that tend to advance are not often “stuck in the weeds” at work. They are able to use their own strengths, and the strengths of others around them to collaboratively meet deadlines efficiently and effectively.
Belief That There Are No Barriers to Advancement
There will always be obstacles and challenges advancing in an organization for both men and women. However, women who become leaders have an “if there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude. They believe there is no challenge that they cannot handle and no obstacle that they cannot get through. Strong women leaders recognize challenges and act on them, rather than letting the challenge stop them from moving forward.
Exhibiting a High Degree of Self-Confidence
If you second-guess your decisions or ideas, your coworkers will second guess you as well. If you show confidence in yourself and what you bring to the table, your peers will be confident in you. Women who advance are confident in their abilities and do not let insecurities hold them back.
Taking Risks in Order to Learn New Skills
Women viewed as successful leaders are constantly stepping outside of their comfort zone. They are not afraid to make a risky decision, as they understand that taking risks is crucial to the growth and development of an organization.
Networking with Important Stakeholders
Due to the fact that women have strong communication skills, they are able to connect and network with stakeholders at all levels. Based on the study, women leaders leverage this ability to make more strategic moves, and also to advance in their own careers.
Successful women are able to clearly and concisely articulate their thoughts and ideas. They are able to speak appropriately and are able to read the audience and choose their voice accordingly.
Cultivate Mentors and Sponsors
Female leaders often will tell you that they had a mentor or someone they looked up to throughout their rise to leadership. This person helped them understand how to capitalize on their strengths and use them to advance.
Increase Business And Financial Savvy
You cannot become a successful woman leader if you do not have an in-depth understanding of how a business operates. Understanding the intricacies of your business allows you to make strategic decisions to better position yourself and the company.
Belief That They Must Work Harder
Women who are successful in advancing have the belief that they can never become complacent. These women feel strongly that no matter what their position, there is always more work to be done and room for improvement.
Belief That Personal Sacrifices Are Necessary
Whether you are male or female, being in a position of leadership requires that you make sacrifices. Whether this is attending conferences on the weekend, traveling, or having less free time, successful women understand that these sacrifices are necessary for their advancement.
Women have a lot of unique traits and behaviors that contribute to their great leadership skills. Companies are responsible for creating an environment where women are able to flourish. An organization that does not give women space for growth could waste an otherwise extremely effective female leader.