In today’s competitive work environment, performance and results are keys to success at any level. Companies continuously evaluate their employees based on overall contribution to the organizational goals. We surveyed 170 professional women to find out what issues are on their minds as they navigate their careers – here’s what we learned:
1. Having Difficult/Awkward Conversations
Let’s face it, no one likes uncomfortable conversations – especially if we need to reprimand an employee, ask for a raise, or tell a good employee they smell! But we know if we don’t address the issue it will only get worse.
We would love to have a way to communicate our message without having the conversation breakdown into a blame session or a struggle for power. Directives can just come off as threatening and the employee tends to shut them out, get angry or cry.
It’s important for us to maintain control of the conversation by listening, asking the right questions and allowing the employee to participate in the problem solving process.
This involvement makes it easier for them to understand your position and what you are asking of them. In turn, they are more likely to commit to the resolution without resentment.
This is how to achieve shared goals while remaining true to yourself.
2. Influencing People and Leading Teams
Effective communication takes intuition and empathy. When you understand your emotions, you can fully connect with people and control the conversation.
According to Forbes, 90% of leadership success is attributed to high EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient). EQ combines five core skills that have been proven to be better predictors of success than simple intelligence.
Those factors are self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Excelling in these five areas allows a leader to successfully form, motivate and lead teams in the workplace.
These leaders know their limitations and are able to form relationships with others and work together to build a high performance business environment.
In the area of EQ, men and women complement each other. Women are adept at expressing and perceiving emotions whereas men are better, in general, at compartmentalizing their emotions.
We all can use a little practice in this area to improve our EQ skills and become better, more effective leaders. Measure your EQ and find out how to strengthen your EQ skills by taking this quick survey.
3. Building Respect and Credibility
Effective leaders have employees who believe in them. These leaders must motivate their teams to get results and therefore must be seen as authentic. Credibility for a man is often based on gender; whereas a woman gains credibility based on her individual skills.
Often women leaders have difficulty overcoming the unseen barriers that exist within the company’s culture. Imagine trying to gain credibility and lead while under the scrutiny of skeptical peers.
As representatives of the minority sex occupying the “big offices,” women especially feel the pressure of all eyes on them. That’s a lot to carry around.
It is more important than ever for a woman to define her role as a leader from the very beginning, be confident in her role and be very aware of situations that may undermine her authority or position.
What solutions would you suggest to guide women to overcome these barriers and lead effectively? Write a comment below.
4. Leading Effective Teams
Leaders know the way to get results is to have an effective team – but what does that mean? The team leader must be able to set goals, define strategies and motivate their team to carry out those strategies for the best results.
In a 2011 study of 7,280 leaders, women rated higher as leaders at every level. Women by nature are very socially oriented – critical thinkers who are genuinely concerned for those around them.
So why are they so concerned with building teams when they already have the upper hand?
According to that same study, one reason for this concern might be that senior men tend to hire mostly other men. Building effective teams for performance and results would naturally be a concern for any driven woman in the workplace.
5. Managing Work and Home Life
Other concerns are delegating and work-life balance. Consider this infographic on women in the workplace:
Take notice of the impact family and children have on women as opposed to men. Obviously, everyone is impacted by the addition of children in the household, but 27% of mothers quit their job as opposed to only 10% of fathers.
As the number of children in the household increases, women spend a lot more time doing unpaid work with no one to delegate responsibilities to.
As society and the workplace evolve the lens will shift to focus on true performance as opposed to gender. This frees up women leaders to truly think more about being “effective” and productive and less about proving themselves as a woman with authority.