{Strategy} | How Women Lead

Here are the highlights I took away from the book How Women Lead by Sharon Hadaray and Laura Henderson:

  • Personal branding is essential to gain visibility, notoriety, and recognition for your accomplishments. When people can recognize you, they are more likely to notice you. The more they notice you, the more they like you. Psychological studies also confirm that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they like it.
    • Seek out opportunities to speak before an audience.
    • Seek out nominations for awards.
    • Showcase your talents and accomplishments in ways that demonstrate and reinforce your credibility. Be strategic: Show, don’t tell. And also, tell. Know when it behooves you to use either of these strategies.
  • Personal branding is very visual and involves the following features:
    • The way you dress
    • The way you present yourself to others (think Carl Jung’s persona concept) – Does it convey competence and confidence?
      • Posture
      • Gestures
      • Behaviors/mannerisms
      • How you speak to others – especially and even in phone conversations and voicemails
    • The way you write – emails (including your signature), written letters, informal writing
    • Your job performance
    • Punctuality, organizational skills, and other features that demonstrate your ability to respect and appreciate others’ time and make the most out of every workday.
    • Provides competitive differentiation, as well as reinforcing people’s perception of you as credible, having integrity, and innovative.
  • What most women perceive as bragging, most of the business world perceives as “good business sense.”
    • The biggest reason for the current gender gap in compensation is that women just don’t ask. They tend to understate their accomplishments.
    • Find ways to describe your contributions and results in terms of numbers that benefit the company. Find metrics – use numbers and units whenever possible. People love to hear positive statistics.
    • Make sure you understand and communicate the language of business. Whether that means take MBA courses or simply understand the key types of numbers that affect your business or industry, ensure your success by being informed.
      • Ask for opportunities to gain profit-and-loss (P&L) experience early in your career.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, look around for answers and context, and do your research.
    • In mixed company, women tend to perceive that they shouldn’t be intellectual/strategic/financial risk-takers. However, men don’t feel constrained by this unspoken notion. To play in a man’s world, you have to speak the language of men and put yourself out there to try new things.
    • For promotions and increased compensation: Visualize your success during a “Big Ask” meeting before having the actual sit-down with your supervisor. Do your research before you go in and propose “The Big Ask.” And also, just do it.
    • Be your own best advocate.
    • Lead like a woman. There is a scientific basis for women’s large contributions as top company leaders. And most people report a greater sense of trust in their female managers than in their male counterparts.
      • Increased brain activity throughout multiple regions of the brain during a problem-solving session allows women to pull from a wider knowledge base relative to men. Women’s brains tend to feature more white matter, the material that increases connections throughout the brain. This enables women to focus on relationships as well as logic, allowing for a more realistic, holistic means of approaching a problem that involves the use of the team she manages. Women’s brains feature a smaller amygdala structure, meaning that in the face of challenges and confrontation they tend to respond less aggressively, with less fear, and with less territoriality. The increased production of serotonin in the brain in women relative to men affords women more stable mood regulation. Higher oxytocin levels in women create better social bonds and trust with those they work with, and the oxytocin feedback loops created thereby help women to value and commit to those relationships even more.
      • Focus on building and maintaining teams and networks of people that work for your common vision and values for the company’s progress. Get buy-in from those you manage before making decisions that will impact them. Communicate tough news in ways that show you truly value the people who are being affected by that news, and explain how it works for them in actuality.
      • Apply “figure it out smarts” – that is, reflect on your abilities and skills to date, value them, find where they are already valuable, and leverage them with the other resources and opportunities at your disposal to solve big challenges.
      • The most-liked and highest-contributing female leaders are effective at communication, decision-making, and teamwork. And they are very authentic people.
      • Companies with the highest representation of women in top-tier leadership roles yield a 34-35% higher return on investment (ROI) over those with the lowest representation.
      • Think holistically when interweaving personal and professional goals. You don’t have to juggle multiple spheres of life as independent worlds. Find ways to incorporate your family life goals, lifestyle/travel goals, career goals, and other personal goals into the bigger picture.

Are you passionate about growing into a leadership role at your organization? Tired of the status quo in your industry? Leave a comment below to share with out #FemmeBossSquad Community!

Hannah Stringfellow is a freelance blogger and world traveler. She holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and cross-cultural competency.

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