7 tips for women leaders

According to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, a majority of Americans (55%) say there are too few women in top executive business positions. And the numbers back that up. A McKinsey Women in the Workplace report showed 28% of the roles in the C-suite are held by women, with 36% at senior manager/director levels.

However, recent data from Leadership Circle reveals that women leaders “show up more effectively than their male counterparts across every management level and age level,” according to a recent Forbes article.

Despite the desire to see more women in leadership and the success of women in those roles, women leaders are in the minority. How can you be an effective leader in that environment?

1: Find the Right Fit

The data proves the cliché: people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. Your best chance of success as a leader is to find an employer and a boss who encourages you, both in what they do and what they say.

Read More: Smart Chat: Annette Gregg on Incentive Travel and Leadership

We can all grow and change, but it’s not worthwhile (besides being exhausting) to constantly try to be what others want you to be. It’s more rewarding to find an organization and a team that values you for you.

2: Lift Up Other Women

As women, we play a role in helping other women. Unfortunately, sometimes women can see other women as competition. We need to switch the narrative. We were helped by those who came before us, and we can help those coming up after us.

3: Plan Your Rest

woman in hammock at the beach

Just like the advice on airplanes to put your oxygen mask on before helping others, you need to put yourself first. Part of that is acknowledging that rest is essential.

Don’t just make time for vacation–be on vacation. I turn my emails and notifications off, so I can truly relax and step back. On a daily basis, be picky with your time. Block your calendar for clarity breaks. That time allows you to focus on the business instead of drowning in the daily details of being in the business.

4: Own Your Value

You belong at the table. You are not a token. Your opinion, your thinking, your perspective – all of those factored into why you were chosen for the role you’re in.

As a young leader, I fell into that “why me?” trap, too. Step outside yourself and think of the value you bring. It’s good to have perspective, but don’t constantly second-guess yourself or compare yourself. When you own your value, you can make a bigger difference.

5: Collaborate & Appreciate

top view of six hands stacked on to of each other

A good leader does more with and through other people. Part of that magic happens when you know your own strengths and then appreciate others’ strengths. For example:

  • Introverts can be good listeners. They may wait to share ideas until they have something profound to say.
  • Creative people need others who think at a different level of detail to see if the creativity will work.
  • Visionaries and integrators balance each other out to bring visions to life.

Read MoreHow to Encourage All Personality Types to Open Up

Here at Bishop-McCann, collaboration is key, even in a hybrid environment with teams across the country. We are excited for each other when someone succeeds because our larger organizational value lies in separate strengths mixing together for the best results.

6: Know Your Personal Brand

Many of us aren’t aware of how we’re perceived. Ask for feedback in a way that’s constructive and linked to your job. And be transparent when you’re acting on it. Think of it as “linking and labeling.” If you’ve been told you’re unapproachable, schedule open office hours and tell the team why.

7: Be Kind & Constructive

One stereotype of women leaders is that they’re too “nice” to have the hard conversations. Break that stereotype by not just having hard conversations, but also doing so in a kind and confident way.

Don’t pay the “compliment” sandwich (a compliment, followed by negative feedback, then another compliment). Everyone sees through that.  Instead, be specific, linking your feedback to goals and strengths. The better you can deliver constructive feedback—to your direct reports, your peers and your boss—the better it will serve you and the organization in the long run.

woman smilingWith nearly 25 years in the industry, Amber Heintz, CMP-HC, HMCC, brings a wealth of diverse experience in managing client programs and operations teams across a wide spectrum of industries.

From corporate to third-party, non-profit to pharmaceutical, her expertise spans a broad range of sectors, making her a valuable asset as Bishop-McCann’s vice president of program operations.

This article appears in the March 2024 issue as “Stop Struggling and Start Succeeding.” You can subscribe to the magazine here.