When we think about great leadership and how to be a leader, we tend to look at the examples around us. And given that men hold the vast majority of leadership positions, and so many industries continue to have an inherently masculine culture, it’s no surprise that leadership is often associated with traditionally masculine character traits.
But as women, we need to redefine what great leadership looks like.
And we can start by dispelling some of the myths that continue to pervade our industries and often, our unconscious thinking.
Myth 1 – Leadership requires an outgoing personality
For a long time, leadership has been equated with having a big , boisterous personality. Many assume the need to be confident and out-going, in order to be able to engage and inspire people.
But that simply isn’t true.
Great leadership is about genuine connection & engagement.
So regardless of your personality type, you can be an incredible leader even if you’re naturally more reserved or introverted.
In fact, this may be your biggest strength. So don’t dismiss your suitability for leadership based on homogeneous and outdated role models.
Myth 2 – Leadership is the same as management
Management is a skill and so is leadership, but it’s important to recognise they are not the same thing.
By definition, a leader is someone who creates a strategic vision for the business, cause or people they work for. Leaders set goals, communicate their importance and ensure delivery at the organisation level.
On the other hand, a manager is responsible for formulating and executing plans in order to achieve the goals. The manager’s role is more administrative but nonetheless vital to success than the leader.
And while in some cases, there is a cross-over of these functions, they each have a unique skill-set and can co-exist independently.
Myth 3 – You need to have a team to be a leader
Having a team is not a prerequisite of leadership.
In reality, you can, and should be a leader at any and every stage of your career.
Because great leadership is about taking people on the journey with you.
It’s about having clarity, casting a clear vision and supporting and inspiring those around you.
And this can be done in any position, regardless of your title, number of reports or seniority.
Leadership is about your mindset, and it’s the people that step up and are leaders ahead of having the job title or team, that distinguish themselves.
After all, everyone wants to be around a good leader and that positions you for more opportunities.
Myth 4 – Senior leadership requires personal sacrifice
And finally, my personal favourite – the notion that being a senior leader requires working harder than others and managing unrelenting hours to get everything done.
This idea assumes a trade-off between having a successful career and a life outside of work.
And as a woman, particularly in a male-dominated industry, this can feel especially difficult given the limited number of women role models around us.
But over the years, I’ve come to recognise that the best leaders are not slaves to their work.
The best leaders, do not have to work longer hours.
In fact by being clear on their purpose and by empowering their team to excel, truly great leaders are able to focus on the important things that they do best.
They work in their zone of genius and have plenty of time away from work to enjoy a balanced, aligned and joyful life.
And this is possible for you too!
How to be leader on your terms
In conclusion, if you feel called to be a leader, then please pursue it.
I believe that we desperately needed more women in leadership, particularly in male-dominated industries.
And why shouldn’t it be you?
You can start being a leader right now, and take steps towards having the career you dream of by developing and executing your own Career Master Plan.
And if you’d like to find out how coaching might support you, schedule your free call to find out more.