Female Leaders Embracing Their Leadership Style
18 Powerful Tools to help you navigate the journey and show up as a leader while being wholly you.

by Raphaelle Hernu

As a female leader, you understand the challenges of finding your unique leadership style. Balancing assertiveness and influence while maintaining your authentic female touch can be daunting when your workplace is still a male-setting environment.
But let's rewrite this narrative! I want to share a set of tools to help you navigate this journey and show up as a leader while being wholly you.
What makes a great leader is a diverse set of qualities, and this diversity knows no gender bounds.
Leadership skills such as empathy, resilience, adaptability, and effective communication are often still perceived as women's attributes.
It's important to acknowledge that female leaders may encounter specific difficulties in discovering their leadership style compared to their male counterparts. As for other minorities in the position, there has been a lack of female role models in leadership positions, making it harder for aspiring female leaders to find inspiration and guidance. Many women who previously reached leadership positions felt the need to embrace an exclusive male-dominated setting, compromising their authenticity and not fully embracing their whole personalities at work.
I'm presenting here a collection of 18 tools to enhance your leadership style, from empathetic engagement to constructive curiosity and many more. This complete list offers a wide array of options to level up your game with style and authenticity.
You don't need to master all 18 tools at once. Some might seem obvious to you but are still worth reminding. Start by exploring which resonates most with you, and focus on practising the top three that align best with your vision. Embrace the challenge, knowing that the tool you feel the most resistance to is likely the one that will bring you the most outstanding results.


Empathetic Engagement
Empathetic engagement is a concept developed by psychologist Carl Rogers that involves showing genuine empathy and respect and creating an environment conducive to open communication.
For example, during a one-on-one with a team member, you can just listen to their concerns without distractions, such as your phone on the table. If you don't, your team member may feel unheard, undervalued, and hesitant to share critical feedback or ideas.


Constructive Curiosity
Being constructively curious means asking thoughtful questions and reflecting on the speaker's responses. It's a great way to create rapport. Stephen Covey develops the keys for effective listening in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
For instance, when dealing with clients, you may ask about their needs and challenges and want to understand their perspectives. Please do so to avoid misunderstandings, leading clients to feel unimportant or unattended, potentially impacting the business relationship negatively.


Validating Perspectives
Validating perspectives involves acknowledging that the other person is at least 10% right, as suggested by Shirzad Chamine in the Positive Intelligence programme, and understanding their point of view.
When interacting with co-workers reporting to another team, try listening attentively to their concerns and acknowledge the validity of their opinions even when you feel they're wrong. You may learn something new and trigger more collaboration and solution-finding across teams.


Appreciation and Recognition
Expressing genuine gratitude and appreciation for a person's actions fosters positive relationships and open communication and strengthens motivation and morale, as explained by Dale Carnegie.
For instance, when dealing with a peer, you may start the discussion by acknowledging their valuable contributions to a recent project before discussing what could be improved. If you pay attention to that step, you're getting the opportunity to reinforce the connection and the enthusiasm of your peer, and your interactions may be perceived as self-centred or even offensive, making it harder to achieve mutual goals in the future.


Vulnerability as Strength
As Brené Brown conveys, embracing vulnerability and sharing personal experiences can build trust and strengthen connections. When dealing with managers and seniors of influence, don't hesitate to share your challenges and growth journey to demonstrate authenticity and openness. Not only will you look more human and transparent, but they will likely respect you more. You are also giving them a chance to do the same and to develop a meaningful professional relationship.


Influential Option-Giving
Providing options and allowing others to eventually reach the same conclusion as you empower them to make informed decisions. Most of all, nobody likes to feel trapped in a one-option scenario they haven't chosen.
When collaborating with suppliers, for instance, you may order just what you want or present alternative approaches to a project, allowing them to offer solutions based on their expertise. If you provide options, your supplier may feel unrestricted and omit to suggest alternative possibilities, leading to a suboptimal outcome, even potential friction or resistance.


Preserving Dignity in Disagreements
Maintaining respect and dignity, even during conflicts, is crucial for constructive communication. When exchanging with a subaltern or your boss, avoid reproaches, personal attacks or demeaning language; instead, focus on the issues at hand. Failing to preserve dignity usually leads to resistance and strained relationships, impeding progress and collaboration.


Active Bridge-Building
Building bridges between teams or departments fosters a collaborative and cohesive work environment. When interacting with co-workers from other departments, look for common goals and interests to create a shared vision. This strategy will help you acquire a pivotal role in the business. You'll be preventing silos from forming; these would hinder the overall effectiveness and innovation within the organisation.


Feedback Loop Integration
Integrating a culture of feedback ensures continuous improvement and growth. Give feedback right away. Immediate feedback is the most effective by far.
When working with direct reports, encourage two-way feedback to create a supportive and growth-oriented atmosphere. Neglecting to implement a feedback loop may lead to stagnation, missed opportunities for growth, and the disengagement of team members.


Resilient Feedback Reception
Receiving feedback with resilience and openness fosters a culture of continuous improvement. When you get feedback from a mentor, please make an effort to listen actively, express appreciation, and seek growth opportunities. With resilience in feedback reception, personal development may continue, so leadership growth.


Courageous Conversations
When dealing with a challenging situation, it's tempting to avoid difficult conversations but having Fierce Conversations (Susan Scott) helps address complex topics constructively and authentically and find mutually beneficial resolutions.
Proactively addressing conflicts helps prevent escalation and strengthens relationships. Avoiding difficult conversations may result in unresolved issues, toxic team dynamics, damaged client relationships, and potential loss of business or productivity.


Inclusive Decision-Making
Including diverse perspectives in decision-making ensures well-rounded solutions and promotes a sense of ownership among team members. For instance, when leading a cross-functional project, involve team members from different backgrounds in decision-making. This will encourage engagement and opportunities for innovation.


Emotional Regulation
The four-quadrant model developed by Daniel Goleman is a great tool to practise emotional regulation and learn to respond calmly and thoughtfully, even in high-pressure situations. Without emotional limitation, negotiations may quickly turn confrontational, damaging relationships and impacting the business's bottom line.


Empowering Delegation
Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains how empowering delegation fosters trust and empowers team members to take ownership of their responsibilities. When you assign tasks, please consider delegating authority and offering support when needed. You will still save time and maintain better control of the outcome while avoiding micromanagement or hindering professional growth.


Adaptive Communication
Adjusting your communication style to suit different audiences makes the message more evident and receivable. When presenting a project proposal to senior leaders, use language and metrics that align with their priorities and concerns. Failing to adapt communication may lead to misunderstandings and decreased support for your initiatives.


Ethical Decision-Making
Prioritising ethics and integrity in decision-making build trust and credibility among colleagues and stakeholders. When faced with a challenging ethical dilemma, it's key to make decisions aligned with the organisation's values and principles as well as your own. Ignoring ethical considerations can damage your reputation and erode trust.


Active Mentoring
Actively mentoring and supporting junior colleagues contributes to their professional growth and fosters a positive work environment. Without active mentoring, valuable talent may not reach its full potential, affecting team performance.


Cultivating Humility
Cultivating humility can be a challenge in an ego-centric workplace. Yet, humility allows you to acknowledge mistakes, learn from others, and foster a collaborative spirit. You can respect the expertise of your teammates while still contributing your unique perspectives. A lack of humility may create barriers to gaining support and collaboration from more experienced leaders.
Incorporating these additional pragmatic tools into your communication toolkit allows you to navigate diverse challenges and relationships effectively, fostering an inclusive and influential leadership style. These tools empower you to overcome resistance, inspire collaboration, and promote professional growth with your stakeholders.
Leadership is not about conforming to a preconceived notion of leadership but about blazing your trail while staying true to your authentic self. Hopefully, these tools will help you radiate more confidence, lead purposefully, and inspire others to do the same.
Remember that you're not alone on this journey.

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