Women in leadership positions still have to contend with numerous stereotypes. These are partly due to the role conflict of women as mothers and caregivers, as this does not seem to be compatible with the image of women as busy executives. Many people often associate women with characteristics such as empathy, caring, and warmth while males are attributed with characteristics such as dominance and competence. This also raises the question of whether there is a female leadership style. The answer to this is a resounding yes and no! Of course, no two leadership styles are alike - since all people are different, their leadership styles vary as well.
But in fact, there are some differences between the female and male leadership styles: Women work more often as part of a team, are more likely to have integrity and honesty, are better at building relationships, and place a high value on the personal development of their employees. However, these are traits that every manager should have. Studies also show that men and women do not differ as much in their leadership styles as many people assume.
This shows that women are just as suitable for management positions as men. Nevertheless, they are unfortunately significantly underrepresented.
In a male-dominated business world, there are many factors that complicate the lives of female executives and contribute to the fact that women are significantly underrepresented in high positions. These include external and internal factors.
External factors are obstacles that lie in the women's environment—both in their company and in society as a whole.
One example is the selection procedures for filling positions. Those individuals who fill the positions often tend to select individuals who resemble them. The problem, however, is the hiring people are mostly male and therefore prefer male applicants.
Furthermore, many women face stereotypes and access to career-relevant networks is often made more difficult for them—in contrast to their male colleagues.
Internal factors refer to internal barriers that women often impose on themselves unconsciously.
A central problem is that women are less likely than men to trust themselves with leadership tasks. As a result, they apply for jobs only when they meet all the qualifications, while males apply when they meet only half the qualifications.
In addition, women are less likely to set goals - even though it has been proven that setting goals has a positive impact on professional success.
Moreover, these difficulties are compounded by structural problems in society. While for men professional success and likeability correlate positively, the opposite is true for women - the more successful they are, the less they are liked, both by men and by women. How do we get out of this predicament? There's only one thing to do:
We need more women in leadership positions so that this becomes the norm.
Clearly defined goals provide clarity and motivation for your career and will help you make decisions that align with your goals in difficult, unexpected situations. Experts recommend using the SMART method to set goals. According to this, your goals are in the best case:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic &
T – Time bound
Now that you've defined your goals, it's time to communicate them clearly and make yourself visible. After all, how else will the relevant people know that you want to take the lead?
This is why, we have summarized some tips from experts:
Self-branding, by presenting your unique selling proposition as a leader: What makes you stand out as a leader and how would you like to develop?
Take on tasks and projects with high visibility and importance in the company to draw attention to yourself.
Remember, though, it's okay to say no if you don't want to do certain tasks and want to focus on other projects. Keep in mind the following stages of saying no:
Be appreciative of the other person.
Explain why you're saying no.
Formulate a clear no.
Offer alternatives if possible.
Don't belittle yourself! Instead, take up space, hold yourself upright, and maintain eye contact with the other person.
Networking is extremely helpful and useful. The following advantages emerge from it. You can...
... exchange ideas with people from a wide variety of fields;
... get new ideas and get to know other points of view;
... get support from people in similar positions;
... meet like-minded people and develop yourself professionally;
... find role models from whom you can learn and benefit from their know-how and experience;
... and collect ideas for new projects, initiate projects and inspire people for future projects.
Short and simple
The first important step into a leadership career is the personal decision on whether you want to pursue this path. You should be aware that this path comes with obstacles and stereotypes. However, don't let that deter you, instead learn to overcome them instead.
Define your goals and values, and become a female leader with compelling self-branding.
Targeted networking provides a career-positive environment and supports you in your personal and professional development.