In a twenty-first century culture, the buck stops at the desks of many women. For anyone placed in a role of leadership the task is never easy. But for women, even though they’ve done so for millenia, a call to leadership is especially challenging. The job is no easier for women now, than it was for those in ancient cultures. But regardless of when we are born, solid principles help us lead effectively.
There are many practical ways a woman can lead in the workplace. But first, she must know herself — as a female, a strategist, a tactician, a trainer, a follower, a communicator, as a person with strengths and weaknesses. For a woman who loves God, she especially must know who she is in His eyes.
Writing out the qualities, the commitments, and the vows you desire for yourself will ensure you achieve all you were made for. Below, you’ll see my own leadership covenant as an example, and after, a list of practical tips to help any modern-day leader, male or female. I hope these tools equip you as they’ve equipped me. Leading isn’t for the faint of heart, but when you are called to it, God gives you the strength.
Practical Leadership Tips
- Especially as a leader, fess up when you mess up. Set the example for your staff to follow — they’ll respect you so much more.
- Read to the end. Most leaders I know think scanning is enough. But they miss important details, and rarely read to conclusion, ensuring the heart of the message is overlooked.
- Listen to the end. Don’t cut a subordinate, or another leader for that matter, off. Let them finish their sentences, their thought streams, their ideas. If they are venting, take a deep breath and allow them the courtesy of getting it all out.
- Constantly keep your eyes open for ways to prevent problems. It costs much less for prevention than it does clean up.
- Turn things that aren’t working into a To-Do list for your organization. It’s an amazing 180 degree way to change things from negative to positive.
- Look for patterns — both negative and positive in your organization, and its people. Intentionally mirror the good, and weed out the bad.
- Don’t take your key people for granted — especially if they’ve been with you for awhile. We tend to stop appreciating those who are the closest, give us the most, and have been with us the longest. We begin to see their work invisibly, as if it generates itself.
- Make sure your ladder’s leaned against the right wall. You can climb fast and furious, but if you climb to the wrong destination, all you’ve accomplished is wasted time.
- Create a habit of ongoing appreciation for all of your staff, new and experienced. Give notes, pats on the back, send emails, take them to lunch, but don’t be afraid to compliment. Warning — DO NOT end a compliment with but…, and then go on to chide them, or tell them what they need to improve on.
- When you know you’ve set your emotions aside, analyzed your actions and influences in a situation, and are sure you need to stand firm, do it. A strong leader looks at battles objectively, but is willing to fight for the greater good when necessary.
- Know when to submit. There comes a time for powerful leaders to allow others to be right, to follow a better plan, or to humble themselves in repentance of their arrogance. A wise leader is able and willing to submit when needed.
- Deny narcissistic tendencies. Don’t allow yourself to make things all about you. It’s a choice, not a necessity to feel and show compassion for others.
- Make a list of traits in an ideal employee, make it detailed with what and why. Then review those qualities to see if you are living up to your own expectations.
- We get what we give — invest your talents in helping subordinates identify their strong suits, then see if there’s a way to put their gifts to work in your company. You and your organization will reap great rewards.
- Don’t offer cookie-cutter reward systems. If you are interested in information on rewards that work, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to share some specific coaching tips.
- Utilize the power of healthy touch. But it must be appropriate touch only! A pat on the shoulder, arm, or hand can do wonders for the human soul, and energize subordinates to greater productivity. In a world conditioned to shy away from personal human interaction, some are hungry for healthy touch. Because of pedofiles, perverts, and other sex offenses, even handshakes are becoming a rarity, and hugs almost non-existent. But there’s a miracle in skin-to-skin touch. Our bodies produce more antibodies, endorphins are released, and positive energy is exchanged when appropriate touch takes place — God created us to heal.
- As difficult as it is, on your worst days at work, remember — If this is the worst thing that happened, it’s been a really good day. Think with gratitude of all the things that could have taken place, but didn’t.