How often have you heard it that a person is a born leader? But are leaders really 'born' or are leadership skills acquired?
What is leadership?
Leadership is more than just setting goals or tasks. Leadership is defining a vision and inspiring others to achieve it. Women in leadership roles are particularly good at defining an objective and directing a group to achieve the goal in a cohesive manner. A good leader shows the way and fosters an environment where all members of the group feel engaged in the project.
Women have a fantastic ability to form strong emotional connections, be empathic and supportive. While these are wonderful practices, women in leadership positions need to be careful not to blur the boundaries.
What makes a good leader?
There are several common personality traits that women in leadership roles demonstrate.
- Be a good listener
A leader needs to set the direction, but a good leader also listen to the input of others. By keeping an open mind and listening to ideas, new ways to achieve objectives can be found. A good leader makes sure everyone in the group feels heard and has the opportunity to contribute.
- Be focussed and motivated
A good leader is enthusiastic and focussed on the task, but also about their role as a leader. People respond to passion and positive energy, and a good leader keeps the team motivated lead by example.
- Be available
One trait of women and leadership that often comes up is being 'available'. Women are often more empathic than men, and as such are more 'available' to their team members. Team members need to feel they can approach their leader and speak freely. Just as important is to keep the whole team engaged, by scheduling team meetings where progress can be discussed, and issues can be raised.
- Be decisive.
No matter how good a listener or negotiator you may be, there are times when compromise can not be reached. Women in leadership positions must be decisive and capable of making the 'final' decision. In some circumstances it is not possible to satisfy everyone, and some team members will disagree. The leader needs to be strong enough to make the decision and follow it through.
- Be confident
Following on from the last point, leadership often involves making 'the tough decisions'. A good leader is confident and does not vacillate. A leader who portraits confidence and self belief will inspire those qualities in others, and bring out their best.
- Be Strategic.
A good leader can keep their mind on the 'big picture' and keep the project moving forward. However it is also important to be able to break the project down into its sub parts for closer analysis. To break it down into manageable steps, and assign milestones while still keeping the whole project in view.
- Be tolerant
On every project issues will arise, set backs will occur. A good leader keeps a cool head and understands this is all part of the journey. During times of uncertainty, people look to the leader for reassurance, and will find security and confidence when the leader remains calm, composed and focussed.
- Take responsibility.
As the person in the leadership role, the buck stops with you. So when things go wrong, take responsibility – not the blame! Taking responsibility is about assessing the situation, finding where the problem occurred and taking steps to resolve the issue and ensure it does not recur.