If you want something said, ask a man…if you want something done, ask a woman.
The examples of successful and powerful women like Jacqueline Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, or Oprah show us that women are as good leaders as they are good mothers and wives. However, the numbers tend to argue. Statistics show that in US women occupy only 22% of management positions. In France and Norway it raises to 24 percent, but in Switzerland and Netherlands it is under 15 per cent. In Asia this number is even lower, for example, in Japan, only 9 per cent of management positions are taken by women. Not taking into consideration national peculiarities and economical factors, let’s discuss what prevents women from being in senior management. What specific problems do women-bosses face? And what are the tips of dealing with them?
Problem 1. Myths and stereotyopes
Do you remember where this stereotype of a bitchy, arrogant and too strict woman-boss arrived? Was it a Devil-Wears-Prada character or something else – it doesn’t matter now. Because society is convinced most women in management positions should be that way – too strict, manipulative, having no private life careerists. It doesn’t usually come to our mind that even if women become someone like that, it’s because the competition to take management position is enormous. And to win it, especially if you are a woman, you should develop strength of character. However, in most cases, women bosses are not all pants suits and manly behavior. They can manage companies remaining feminine and avoiding intrigues, manipulation or drama. Women today are smart enough to play by rules and withstand the competition. What women do today is debunking the other stereotype – that leading is male prerogative. If a woman has enough skills and experience, gender should not be the thing to keep her from taking senior position.
Problem 2 Balance between family and career
The main problem a woman-boss can face is that she can get pregnant. Even if she is not planning it now, she can get pregnant some day. That is the risk for the company. That can be the reason why company company owners prefer male managers over female ones. If woman gets pregnant and takes maternity leave, she may lose her leading position. So often she has a tough dilemma – to choose the role of boss or a mother. What if you already have children? Work takes much time if you manage. Dedicated bosses have no schedule. So children would probably lack your attention, and it can be a problem. If you don’t want your kid to spend childhood with babysitter or make your husband a take your role – then you will face the same dilemma – being either boss or mother. Next problem of lady-boss and her family life is a husband. If he is a leader too – you will get into constant conflict of leadership. If he earns less, he will not feel his masculine role in your family. Plus, you will have to take the fact that your apple pie is not the best in the neighborhood. Well, being housewife is not that important. But it may be important for you to be a good wife and a mother.
Problem 3 Choosing the right type of management
When taking management positions women are afraid to fail getting the authority, so they follow male boss behaviour. Usually it repels subordinates rather than inspires respect. It is not a secret that women are often ruled by emotions. It is a physical part after all. We can’t get rid of hormones which influence our mood which in its turn influences our decisions. So, the next problem here is decision making process. Women are not believed to take sober, sensible decisions, especially in critical situations. To cover indecisiveness, women tend to be too strict, too demanding, too uncompromising and unapproachable. The fair to be manipulated makes a lady boss make decisions on her own, ignore advice and being rather authoritarian. On the contrary, woman boss can be too liberal, making others make decisions she can’t make. That undermines her authority and leads to failure sooner or later.
Problem 4. Proving you are good enough
Being in management position often means being in male surrounding – male managers, male partners, male company owners and even male subordinates. Woman should be ready to face sexism in disguise. Your gender will always be taken into consideration and usually not for your benefit. Some men can not accept to be managed by a woman. Some can not take woman as an equal business partner. A woman in such cases should not only be a pro and prove her skills. She should be confident in herself and her aims. And she should remember that deeds are mightier than words when it comes to proving you are worthy of your position.
Tips to be a good leader
- Have strong principles that apply to anyone (with no regard to position or gender)
- Don’t let anyone manipulate you (especially playing your feelings)
- Never mix work and private life. That’s what discredits female bosses more often
- Be moderately demanding to yourself and others
- Assign tasks clearly. Hints are not a tactic you should use in your work. Male and female opinions do not differ when it comes to transparency and clarity at work
- Learn something new and improve your professional skills. This is what makes you a good leader in any sphere. This makes a good reputation as well.
- Delegate tasks right Do not try to do everything on your own. You have a team to work with
- Don’t play Ice Queen. Of course you should keep the distance and avoid familiarity, but don’t play the Ice Queen. Make your employees feel comfortable
- Use your feminine qualities. Women are good listeners – why don’t use it as a lady-boss benefit? Women are also better at avoiding conflicts rather than solving them. Women are more tolerant and flexible. So, why follow male behaviour if you can be a brilliant female leader?
- Learn to leave your work at office. You are not a boss at home. Let yourself to be taken care of – that’s what you deserve being with your family.