Episode 47 | Six Unique Challenges Women in Leadership Face

Both men and women face challenges in leadership. It’s a huge responsibility to be a leader. It requires deep work developing leadership skills and capacity. This week we talk about six unique challenges women face. They are highlighted in this post but make sure you listen to the podcast to get more of our insight and discussion.  

Challenge #1: Women are too emotional or aren’t emotional enough.

Do women cry? Yep. Do men cry? You bet. We’re human. We have emotions. How we process our emotions matters. As leaders— no matter what our gender —we must find the appropriate balance of processing our emotions authentically (yes, tears are ok!) while leading confidently, choosing to not be blinded by our emotions in the moment and not always burying what’s going on inside our hearts as well as minds.

Emotions provide us with insight into what is going on inside of us. Pay attention to your emotions. 

Reframe: We’re all emotional. We’re human.
Challenge #2: Women who choose work over family aren’t good mothers or can't be good leaders.

Choosing to be a working mom doesn’t make you less of a mom. One choice isn’t better or wiser than the other. It simply boils down to what you’ve decided is best step for you and your family. In the same vain, not being a mom doesn’t make a more or less effective leader as well. Both choices are difficult and both require sacrifice. The best decision a leader can make is in taking the next best step in front of them.

Reframe: Being who we were uniquely designed makes you a good mothers or leaders, not a culture-defined stereotype.
Challenge #3: Lack of female role models.

Women have time and again proved their capabilities in the work front but still the top cream layer is mostly occupied by men. The challenge here is female leaders are many but role models are few. The result is when women try and look for leaders whom they can emulate, they are left behind. 

Who has helped you grow as a leader?
What woman are you supporting in their leadership journey?

When looking for a role model don't forget to look for the traits you admire not the title or position someone has!

Reframe: Be intentional about seeking out women role models. 

Challenge #4: Power play and ego clashes.

Women often shy away from politics and power. If you haven't listened to our episode with Karen Scian, listen to her story about being a woman in politics.  

Lots of women have written about their challenges. One worth reading that invites a reframe of traditional male approaches of power is: The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin.

Reframe: Understand that power and politics exist and you need to learn how to engage. Be wise. 

Challenge #5: Marginalization of women is more common than we want to admit.

As much as we don’t want to admit it, women are still being diminished, sidelined, suppressed, and thought less of because of being women and because they are different from the leadership norm. Further, women are pushed aside regularly when they make their family priorities known or demand time off after having a child.
If your organization still has insufficient representation of women at senior levels, do what is necessary to bring about true change. Conduct primary research at your workplace to uncover what is not working for women in the organization, and follow it up by implementing new policies, procedures, and effective training, education, and programs for men and women.

And support successful and empowering female leaders today as true role models who “walk the talk” and can give other women a powerful visual model for success.

Reframe: Confront marginalization when you encounter it. Have conversations with men who may unintentionally be acting out of old entrenched patterns.
Challenge #6: Women don’t believe in themselves.

And therein lies the greatest challenge of all—confidence in who we are and in who we can be.

Be willing to look for the support that you need to help you grow in your confidence.

We did an entire episode on confidence. Listen for some helpful insight. 

Reframe: When women do choose to believe in themselves, nothing that can stop them.

We ended our episode with some ways for you to actually overcome these challenges in your life and work. Let us know what you have experienced and how you have overcome your unique challenges!  

Have a great week,

Sandy & Jo-Anne xo

And a little bonus for you here!  While we don't agree it is a man's world. We do think Jame Brown rocks AND he was speaking the truth of his time.