Tips for women who are, or want to be, in positions of leadership and authority.
A recent University of Texas study showed that as women gain authority in the workplace, they become depressed. The opposite is true for men.
One explanation is that being in leadership positions is “normal” for men. For women it’s a different story. We have to risk being called bossy, bitchy or shrill. Women are always fighting a stereotype. Who wouldn’t get depressed?
But it’s the 21st century, people. More women are going to be in more positions of leadership. If you are one of them, here are some thoughts:
Stop apologizing. Women do not have to talk and act like men to be successful but verbal tics like “do you mind if?” and “I’m sorry but” do not serve us. Know what you want to say, and say it. “Up-speak” is also unnecessary and makes us look insecure.
Use numbers. Expressing opinions and ideas in terms of numbers makes them 10 times more powerful. See what I did there? Seriously, learning the language of statistics and finance, and using it, not only helps us make better decisions, it helps us better convince people to agree with and support us.
Build a world-class team. Female leaders are less likely to be accused of bossiness when they have a loyal, diverse and competent group of people backing them up. Many women tend to excel at collaboration and inclusion. If this is your gift, make it work for you. While you’re at it, help your individual team members to succeed and advance, too.
Don’t avoid conflict. You don’t have to go looking for it either, of course. But confrontations, which are inevitable, are best faced directly, unemotionally and as soon as possible.
Be you. Twenty years ago women who wanted to be leaders were told to act more like men. The good news is we don’t have to do that anymore. Instead, go with your strengths. You can use charm and humor, for example, if you are charming and humorous. People — women and men — are most powerful when they are being their authentic selves. Be an individual and people will see you first, not your gender.
Just like countries, companies are best served when both women and men are in positions of power. So take your place at the table. It’s time.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.