Thank you for your question. It comes at a perfect time because I have just started mentoring a young woman from Nepal via the WeduFund nonprofit because I believe that the world needs more female leaders: in my opinion the world will be a much better place when we have a 50-50 presence of female-male leaders in all fields.
The way you phrased your question makes me want to share two disclaimers before I continue:
1. Any answer given here has to be a generalization: all women (and men) are different. Every single client I work with (man and woman) has a different story and requires to find their own unique path the building their leadership persona. I understand that you're looking for general trends, which is what I will focus on.
2. Your question implies a difference between men and women. To keep this answer relatively short, the only difference I will highlight is that in my experience of coaching, training and mentoring women managers, executives and entrepreneurs is that women tend to have the reverse strengths and weaknesses men have. For example, most of my male and female clients agree with the statement "when men think, they say they know; when women know, they say they think". Please let me know if this was actually the focus of your question.
In business as well as in media, most leadership personas are still portrait by men. A direct result is that most female leaders believe they have to emulate the way men cultivate their leadership (which may very well work for some!).
The three basic principles will always be the same, however the journey and the way to fulfill these principles will alway be different:
1. Building your brand. I have written a book called "you are your brand" where I describe this process in more details. You have to tell a great story, show your vision, share your values and walk the talk. Your brand must be build within your organization, within your network of friends, within your industry as well as on social media. How does your peronsal brand look like now? What does your ideal brand look like?
2. Building relations up (hierarchic superiors, mentors), side-ways (colleagues at the same level, clients, suppliers) and down (direct team members, junior employees). A persona is an image people have of you: once you have clarity of your brand, you have to create a network of people who know and believe in your brand. Cultivating relations and building a strong network of followers is crucial to establishing your leadership. How are you current relations up, sideways and down? Which ones do you need most improvement on?
3. Continuously grow as a leader: some people may be tempted to build a leadership persona without actually being great leaders. You can build the best brand in the world but if you don't walk the talk, people will eventually notice your persona is only sparks and artefacts. It is crucial that you continuously grow as a leader because the best leader create leaders. In other words, your leadership will be most fully established the moment your mentees / followers have taken your position. This means that you must have taken the steps to grow to the next level up. What are your strengths and successes as a leader? What does the next level of leadership look like for you: where are you going?
A good example of a female leader who does not attempt to emulate male leadership is Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook. I recommend to many of my female clients to this her book "Lean In" because it is a great basis for developing our coaching relationship. While reading the book, make notes of what you can relate to and what does not relate to you: we can then focus on the similarities and differences because like everyone... you are unique.
If you want to explore how to build your brand, how to build relations and how to grow as a leader, you can get in touch via Clarity or take a look at my work on www.about.me/noamkos
Answered 9 years ago