Your Gender and Its Impact On Your Leadership Style

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FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Your Gender and Its Impact on Your Leadership Styles. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a panel of experts this month who were as passionate about leadership and empowerment of women as they were knowledgeable, experienced and successful enough to make an impact in their circles small and large.

The panelists shared stories about partnering with leaders at all levels from the bottom to the top, and back from the top to the bottom, and working with them to see their own behaviors, to be more flexible, more inclusive, more collaborative, facilitating continuous conversations exchanging ideas and connecting with a broader spectrum of ‘others’, while valuing and empowering all.

Below is advice from our women leaders on how to better leverage gender and make a broader impact:
Tips For Being More Strategic
• Know yourself – your passions, strengths and weaknesses and make career plans for yourself which would help you to grow and succeed.
• Honor your values and your integrity by choosing to do the right thing, despite the pressure and circumstances, even if it means taking a short-term hit, or making a painful stand. But use your best judgment in doing the right thing, making sure that health and well-being of yourself and your family are not in jeopardy and while maintaining quality relationships, and holding true to your personal brand.
• Think carefully through which organization and team you would like to join and ensure a cultural fit with your own values, style and standards.
• Whatever your role, whatever your gender, add value to the organization you’re working for, in a capacity that makes sense, based on your interest, experience and role.
• Manage your emotional responses into a passion for a cause, and communicate in business terms around your passion.
• Be proactive and anticipate best and worst case scenarios and put yourself in progressively more influential positions as you succeed in managing through changes and challenges.
• Use key buzzwords so that people see you as a bigger-picture person: Be strategic, talk about your vision, align business units, conduct integrated business planning, monitor performance, etc.
Tips for Building Influence
• Wherever you land, even in the most ideal situation, you will need to shift the mindset of others you’re working with who may treat you badly and differently because of your gender. Accept this as the truth and find a way to turn it to your advantage and succeed despite the challenge.
• Make a plan for what you will accomplish every day, week and month, to make the impact you’re seeking to make. Rally others to support yourself and the goals you’re setting. The better, more collaborative results you get, the more influence you will have for this and other projects.
• Whether or not you’re interested in advancement, shift your thinking into working smarter, connecting and communicating with the right people rather than working harder behind the scenes and not necessarily getting the credit or recognition you’ve earned.
• End conversations, particularly difficult conversations in a positive, constructive note.
• Listen to learn about people’s passion, interests, priorities, etc and collaborate with them to find a win-win.
• Have a meeting before a meeting to help ensure you have the influence you want in a meeting, on behalf of your team and your project and your company.
Tips for Building a Network
• Build rapport and deeply connect with people who matter to you in a conscious, intentional and plan-ful manner, so that you are genuine and authentic.
• Consider leveraging humor during awkward conversations, with the interest of maintaining rapport and connections. If you have to call someone on something they’ve done, don’t make them look bad publicly, but do ensure that they know that their behavior is not acceptable.
• Build a network who will support you and challenge you and help you grow and succeed. Maintain that network as leadership is a journey, not a destination.
• Seek and provide honest, considered feedback and work with others who would help you keep raising the bar.
• Connect with influential others by finding and sharing common ground. Where appropriate, see the world from their point of view and speak and communicate to them on their terms.
• If you want plum assignments, engage before it comes up network with a more and more influential people.
• Know your goals and be willing to share them with influential others and enlist others to support you in your goals, while supporting them with theirs.
Tips for Work-Life Balance
• Respect work-life integration as part of the equation and set boundaries so that you honor your personal priorities. Make it safe for others around you to the same, but respect that it’s about working smarter and delivering results, not about extended hours in itself.
• Be fully present at work and at home, rather than feeling guilty and less engaged focusing on the other while you’re choosing to do the one.
• Be matter-of-fact about the work-life integration choices you’ve made, and confident that the results speak for themselves.
• Set and communicate your boundaries about when you are available to work and what types of assignments you can take. Then respect those boundaries making few exceptions.
• Manage your self-talk so that you are empowering, clean and truthful. Lose the guilt, while always striving to improve.
• As Jerry Elliott exec vp at Juniper would say, ‘outsource everything but love’.

In the end, it is women like our panelists are the types of change agents who help us see inequities and feel inspired and empowered enough to do something about it. But don’t just leave feeling energized as you envision a bigger tomorrow – do something about it. Create a plan and connect with others who can support you in making something happen, help you and others around you lead it forward, for the betterment of all.

Resources:
• Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends by Tim Sanders (Paperback – Jul 22, 2003) http://www.amazon.com/Love-Killer-App-Business-Influence/dp/1400046831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310416355&sr=8-1
• The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle (Sep 29, 2004) http://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577314808/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310416460&sr=1-1

Please join us in thanking our hosts at Oracle and to all our corporate partners for their ongoing support of the series. We would also like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series:
Facilitator Nancy Monson, Nancy Monson Coaching
Panelist Caroline Cornely, Senior Finance Manager, Cisco System
Panelist Natalie Guillen, Integrated Business Planning, PayPal
Panelist Luanne Tierney, VP of Global Channel Marketing, Juniper Networks
Panelist Barbara Williams, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle

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