Leading as a Woman + My 5 Specific Tips
We’ve recently completed our Women on Boards series on our podcast and it was truly some of the most eye-opening interviews I’ve done thus far. The stats, the tips, the outlook for the future, it all looks really bright and I wanted to continue the dialogue around women and leadership this week.
Have you heard of Katie Sowers? She is an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. A woman with a full-time coaching position in the NFL (only the second woman in history to do so).
I came across this article with some of her thoughts on women succeeding in a male-dominated field and it really resonated with me.
This quote especially hit home: "It's not just about little girls, but young boys too. It's valuable for them to see women leaders as they're growing up. The more visible you are, the better."
I love this. It’s something so relevant to our time. Young men today are growing up with moms and sisters and aunts and girlfriends that are entrepreneurs, managers, coaches, CEOs, you name it. It’s going to shift their view from a very young age and show them that both men and women are great leaders.
She also said that “women often shrink when they’re bragged about” and how we should not do this, we should be proud of our work.
This rings so true and at Slater Success we teach and speak on owning your value and accepting praise. Women are doing fantastic work in this world every single day in so many different industries.
If you scan the Internet, you’ll find countless articles sharing tips on being a woman working in a male-dominated field and because I spent the first twenty years of my career doing just that, I have some tips to share, as well, based on very real experiences.
Find good mentors.
You don’t want to feel intimidated or afraid to go to your mentor. You need someone with a lot of experience, who has a vested interest in your success, who is willing to lend a hand and spend time with you and someone you trust and respect. If your company doesn't have a mentorship program in place, be the person that starts the conversation!
Trust your gut.
You can’t go wrong if you do what feels right. When working in printing, I was told to make cold calls to find clients. I knew that wasn’t going to work for me. To be my authentic self, I needed personal connection. I used my network and the relationships I built in my previous work environments to foster the new relationships I would need to succeed in my new role. Just because someone “higher up” tells you how to do something, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. Find your own way. They are looking for a result, and often as long as you achieve the result they are open to the how.
Speak up and make sure you are heard. If you feel you are working somewhere that does not allow you the opportunity to speak and give your suggestions, it might be time for a chat with your supervisor or a move to a different role within the company. Or seek out your mentor, coach, or a leader you respect for guidance tips and advice on speaking out and being heard. Add value when and where you can and don’t let fear stop you from being the person in the room that raises their hand. What you have to say could make a huge impact.
Ask for help/support.
When you don’t understand something or you don’t think you can tackle a task alone, ask for the help and support you need. It does not make you look weak to ask for help. In fact, it makes you look a lot stronger, because you are showing vulnerability and looking out for the best interest of the company. Find that extra layer of support and use it when you need it.
Know what is happening in the business. Learn, ask questions, get involved. The more you integrate yourself into the company, the more opportunities you will have to serve on committees or boards or teams. Prepare by knowing the numbers, the future vision, the plans. If you are always one step ahead, your insight becomes super valuable.
If you want to read more about my time in the printing industry and some of the stories I share, pick up a copy of From The Barre to the Boardroom.