Every woman is a born leader with leadership skills waiting to be developed. She leads her life, her family, her friends, and her work colleagues.
For centuries women have stood in the face of confrontation and conflict. Women are called to leadership action. They want to make a difference. Women are designed to solve problems. Ask any mother at the dinner table or in the car headed to the next soccer tournament.
Leadership is not about being endlessly kind and well-groomed. It is more than being a role model or mentor.
Leadership is equal parts being who you really are,what people hope you will be, and what people need you to be.
It means taking the risk to stick your neck out and take a stand – sometimes an unpopular stand.
Effective women leaders understand the necessity of claiming their space to announce new and needed ideas, to create controversy in the wake of status quo and to offer security in direction.
Effective women leaders know the courage and fortitude it requires to measure up under the spotlight.
This is precisely why women need to be aware of and overcome the most common mistakes made in leadership positions and opportunities.
Here are the top 5 leadership mistakes and how women can avoid them.
1. Not letting people follow you. How many times have you started to lead only to question those following you? Sounds crazy, yes. Does it happen? You bet.
Constantly micromanaging your followers is a way of questioning them. When you micromanage, you are telling them you don’t have confidence in what they are doing. They start to doubt you. They begin to question your ability. They don’t feel secure in the direction you are leading, and this generates rejection.
Solution: Carefully plan what needs to be done, who should do it and the timeline. This applies at work as well as at home. Whose job is it to meet with specific customers? Who is responsible for managing evaluations? Who is supposed to take out the garbage on Tuesday nights? Another tip is to realize you are not all things to all people. You will need to sort through who garners your attention. It’s a matter of realizing what is important versus what is urgent.
2. Being paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. This is worse than analysis by paralysis. It’s one step removed – backwards. Fear is the number one barrier to everything. It stops you from even starting. You fear not only making a mistake but also being the one in the spotlight holding the bag once everyone around you scatters.
Solution: Accept the fact that you will make mistakes. In fact, it’s the mistakes that make you a better leader, but only if you learn from them. Know that if you make a bad call, your intention is honorable AND you fully intend to learn every aspect of what went wrong, what you could have done better and what you will do next time. Be caring toward yourself. Possess an attitude of understanding and forgiveness. Certainly drop the “I know everything” stance.
3. Letting your EGO get in the way. Once you get into a leadership position, it can be tempting to let it go to your head. You start to think you have all the answers. You’re the cat’s meow! People begin to view you as self-centered, egocentric, and (guess what) dispensable. Yes, they would rather get rid of you than follow you.
Solution: Don’t hog the limelight. Give credit where credit is due. This is where your delegation skills pay off. You can easily point to the person or people responsible for a job well done. When it is your turn to bask in the sunshine, do it with grace, humility and acceptance.
4. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. Yes, decisions need to be made from your heart and intuition as well as your head. Never underestimate the value and worth of what your gut is telling you. However, you don’t need to show every emotion at every turn.
Solution: Practice reservation. Control your body language. Let it represent what you want to show. Turn a deaf ear to untrue gossip. Respond with dignity to criticism. Do not tip-toe or become mindlessly sensitive to what’s going on in the company. Listen to people’s feelings about what you are doing. Gather information and reflect in private your feelings and the meaning of the information. Remember, “never let them see you cry” doesn’t mean never cry.
5. Waiting to be invited to lead. Women mistakenly consider it polite to wait to be called to lead. They tend to see if someone else steps forward first or who has more “senior” ability to claim the title. Failing to quickly and assertively step into a leadership role causes you more damage than you realize.
Solution: Understanding that leadership isn’t only for the CEO, you need to be among the first two or three people to speak in every meeting – not to necessarily voice your opinion, but to ask questions or support what others say. This also applies to asking permission. When you ask permission, you are relegating yourself to a child. You should inform others of your plans, and then ask for suggestions.
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