3 Steps Women Leaders Can Take to Build Loyalty
Article | Accountability Insights
Building a loyal following as a leader is never easy, woman leaders especially often face unique hurdles. Here are three steps that women leaders can take to harness power and build loyalty at the same time.
One of the most important goals of a leader is to build a loyal following. Easier said than done, especially when you are dealing with people. There are people who connect with us and others who make it difficult to align our teams.
Women leaders often face unique hurdles—sometimes placed there by others and sometimes of their own creation. Women often describe the stress of leading in a predominant male industry or company where too often they are pacified, dismissed, or not acknowledged.
In these circumstances, it is tempting to force your way into a conversation, meeting, and even a leadership role. It’s also natural in these circumstances to make decisions based on fear. We ask questions like: “Will they listen to me? Will they do what I ask? Will I set myself up for failure?”
As women, we can often get caught in the position of trying to please others to no avail. We think we are doing everything right but are still not gaining the momentum we want. Often in our effort to get it right, we forge ahead, falling into even more traps that prevent us from achieving the very goal we desire. In our effort to build a loyal team, women leaders may end up pushing people away rather than fostering loyalty.
It is a tough road to lead alone; however, leading out of fear is a trap that can be counterproductive, causing us to fall out of step with our true inner leader.
Instead of leading from fear, here are three steps that women leaders can take to harness power and build loyalty at the same time.
Step #1 – Be Accountable for Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions
All too often women leaders are faced with challenging situations or people that immediately drive us into action, or in other words, reaction. This can result in us saying or acting in a way we regret, which reflects on us as a leader.
When we encounter these challenges, stop and take a breath. Reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and what actions you want to take and ask yourself if that will result in the outcome you hope to achieve. It is in that moment of breath that clarity can come (some may need two breaths). Clarity of thought is reflected in our leadership ability and we are more apt to do the right thing.
Step #2 – Engage in the Uncomfortable Conversations
It is common for women leaders to stay away from uncomfortable topics with people. They hope the issue will resolve itself, so they avoid engaging in an uncomfortable conversation where feelings might be involved. However, it’s when we connect with our team on this real level that we foster loyalty. People appreciate our honesty.
There are many companies that struggle with a “nice culture.” People avoid stating what needs to be said, which can result in passive aggressive behaviors that trigger conflict. Demonstrating the courage to engage in these difficult conversations is the way to lead people to resolve potential problems. Some, if left unmanaged, could result in large problems.
If you are concerned with how you may be addressing these topics, ask for feedback.
Step #3 Acknowledge Mistakes as Learning Opportunities
Women leaders often want to do things perfectly. We don’t want to make mistakes because if we do, people may say something like, “Maybe we shouldn’t have had that woman in this role.”
When we sweep mistakes under the rug and not talk about them, shame accumulates. Hiding mistakes perpetuates silence. If we cannot talk about mistakes, we may end up making them all over again.
Fear is at the root of this, and it is gender neutral. It takes a strong leader to embrace mistakes, learn from them, and share with others. Sharing mistakes and what you’ve learned from them is critical as it prevents others in the department or organization from making the same mistakes.
As a leader, make your team feel confident that they can share mistakes, too. Good results come from having healthy conversations where we are focused on the solution instead of the problems and who made them. Do not look to blame, but rather look to overcome and learn so that every individual on the team is learning and becoming a stronger employee because of it. In this way, trust is fostered, and we build a culture in which we fail fast and move on with tremendous learning under our belt.
Harness Your Power as a Woman Leader
The most important thing you can do as a woman leader is be accountable. Own your thinking and behavior. Empower yourself and your team to engage in all conversations with an effort to learn, overcome, and achieve. This is what positions a women leader for success.
When a woman leader cannot align her team and establish trust, she will not be as effective in producing results. But when she embraces these three steps, she will define her strength as a leader and people will trust in her ability to lead.
Discover more tips for building loyalty and inspiring your team to success in our upcoming webinar Peak Performance: Women in Leadership live on September 19th.