Posted on March 07 2019
Women face a lot of problems in business. Whether it's in a subordinate or managerial position, they've got the deck stacked against them, from how people expect them to act to outright misogyny. However, they still need to command respect, whether they're running their own business or managing a small team.
The problem is in how they're perceived. Bossy women are treated with hostility, more so than bossy men. It's an unfortunate fact, and one that smart women will work around if they want to succeed.
1. Process-Oriented Improvement
Leadership involves setting high standards and inspiring employees to achieve those standards. The problem is, when women set those standards, employees don't always take it well. When trying to improve employee performance, it's best to teach them how to improve themselves. Instead of focusing on their errors, make their mistakes teachable moments.
2. Regular Performance Reviews
Female managers can't afford to constantly pressure employees; it's not good for employee morale. However, male managers can get away with it, while women managers will get push back. Instead, they should schedule regular performance reviews. This is less stressful for both employees and managers, and can help view performance on a macro level instead of on what the manager happened to see that day.
3. Be Real
Due to how they may be perceived in the workplace, female managers commonly adopt a colder and overly formal personality. They may feel that if they show any feminine characteristics, they'll be defined and judged for their gender instead of their performance and skill. However, a cold attitude isn't going to handle sexism, and it's easy to go too far and end up alienating employees.
Women in management positions should feel free to be themselves. Instead of giving everyone the cold shoulder, be what you're supposed to be: a dependable and trustworthy leader. You must focus on doing your job well, not on how you're perceived or on dissuading misogynists.
4. Collaborate Whenever Possible
Nobody likes a dictatorship, but women are especially vulnerable to being called bossy. Even a simple directive can make them seem overly controlling. It's not fair, but it's what women in positions of power must contend overcome.
A good way to work around this hurdle is by collaborating with employees; instead of dictating an action plan, help them form one. Including them in the conversation makes them view the issue more objectively and feel more invested in the eventual solution. Talk to them about their long-term goals and help them put together plans to achieve those goals.
5. Working in the Trenches
Leaders are sometimes required to step into the trenches themselves to get things done. Unfortunately, this can make employees feel undervalued and untrusted, which can affect their performance. What women need to keep in mind is how they choose when to intervene. They should only intervene because it's the best option for the company, not because they feel they can do the job better.
This is the difference between taking over some light accounting and intervening during a client meeting. The former shows a lack of trust in the employee, while the latter can define the company's future. Managers should also focus on encouraging employees to become more self-reliant and to rely less on their bosses.
Women in a position of authority face a double-edged sword. They may have the power, but they also might face opposition because of their gender. It's unfair, but until things change, they'll have to adapt if they want to survive and succeed.