Shaping yourself into a driven, supportive and vocal leader is easier said than done, especially if you’re a woman just starting your career.
As a Creative Director and President of SheSays London, leadership and helping other women unlock their potential to become leaders is something I’ve always focused on.
When it comes to leadership skills there’s always room to grow and I have learned a lot from some brilliant minds over the course of my career. With this priceless advice and my experience in mind, here are my top seven insights for our female leaders now and in the future.
Be authentic and set an example
An important value for any aspiring leader is to be yourself and to be authentic, as it’ll be hard to earn respect if you’re putting on an act that people can see through. It’s also wise to show consistent demeanor so that your team knows what to expect every day; it’ll also boost morale. Likewise, try to be consistently optimistic about new challenges, because a happy leader with a positive outlook drives a productive team.
Focus on your team
Speaking from experience, good leaders show a genuine interest in people. Especially in what makes them tick both professionally and outside of work. Setting clear goals and giving feedback are essential parts of good leadership, as this enables you to get the best out of people, and for them to get the best out of you.
While mentoring aspiring female leaders at the start of their careers, I can see that they are much more purpose-driven and able to multitask. I don’t think it’s necessary to be dedicated to one thing, or even to one company; instead, have a core focus on really driving change. We’re now in a less hierarchical, more modern, and more fast-moving business world, and a good leader will embrace this.
Give feedback like a pro
I’ve found that it’s essential to give feedback in private as soon as an issue arises, and if you can accentuate the positive aspects of someone’s work when giving negative feedback, this will help to maintain your relationship. For example, if a meeting has gone badly and somebody doesn’t know their facts, the best thing would be to tackle the conversation straight afterwards. Say something like, “At your best, you know your facts, you’re fluent; when you’re not at your best, you’re not prepared, and it shows, and you let yourself down.” You build them up, but you help them see where they went wrong.
In my experience, you have to seize the moment. You have to ask questions. Sometimes, questioning someone else’s point is a better way of making yours, rather than throwing your point across the boardroom table, or waiting to bring it up later when it’s perhaps not quite as relevant. Summarize what’s has been said in the meeting is also a good way in.
Mastering the art of negotiation is essential for any leader. When dealing with all big commercial negotiations, you have to prepare yourself thoroughly and well in advance. Prepare several different scenarios and try to understand a win-win scenario for both sides.
Support other female leaders
How do we do this? By supporting and encouraging the pipeline of future female leaders as actively and wholeheartedly as we can. Mentoring women as they build their careers is an essential part of the global effort to see them take on leadership positions; nothing is more encouraging than receiving advice from a successful woman. We also need to work with male leaders to drive change, rather than develop a sort of anti-male agenda, which isn’t what we want. We don’t want to ‘beat’ men. We want to be equal to men.
About the author
Connectt provides any brand, organisation and individual the ability to deliver branded social networking solutions for customers, employees, remote business partners, followers or any group that is aligned around a common interest area. With Connectt, organisations no longer need to subject their social capital to third parties that control what users see and do. They can integrate the features that matter to drive engagement, purchase, retention, and loyalty.
SheSays is an award-winning global network organisation focused on the engagement, education and advancement of women in the creative industries. The London branch is its biggest chapter with over 4,000 member.