Seven Tips for Being a Great Leader in a Male-Dominated Business
Not only are women achieving success in male-dominated industries, more and more women are also becoming leaders. Being a leader comes with its own set of challenges, even in non-male-dominated fields. But when you’re a leader in a group where women have been marginalized for years, it can be even harder to gain a foothold. Here are a few tips for being a great leader in a male-dominated business.
This of course goes without saying, but it can often be harder to achieve than some of the other tips. After having been trained for most of your life to be meek and blend into the background, trying to make yourself stand out can be very difficult. Just remember that it was your strength and abilities that got you where you are, and you don’t have to apologize to anyone for it.
This is one place where women do tend to have an edge over men. The same qualities that can get you labelled “too chatty” are the ones that can help you forge strong relationships with your staff. By paying attention to issues like employee wellness and work-life balance, you’ll let your team know that you’re there for them.
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and your knowledge, and definitely don’t hesitate to defend your people. Standing behind your team, even when things aren’t going well, will go a long way towards earning the respect of both your team mates and your colleagues.
Somewhere along the way you’re going to run into some guy who doesn’t think that you belong there. And they feel they have the right to insult or harass you about it. The biggest thing to remember when you encounter someone like this is to stay calm. The minute you react with any sort of anger at these types of injustice, you’ll be flagged as “too emotional” even if a man would have reacted the same way. It’s not fair, but it’s a reality you’ll need to learn to live with.
Own Your Space
Stand up straight, don’t move aside if you’re walking down the hall and a man approaches from the opposite direction. You have just as much right to be there as he does, even though women have typically yielded to men. By acting deferential to men in the workplace, you’ll encourage the idea that you are beneath them.
One of the biggest challenges that women face in working environments is trying to find the right balance in their voice. Women tend to apologize for speaking. Or they will down-play their ideas with qualifying buffer statements like “I might be wrong, but I think…” When you do this, you’re considered long-winded, but if you’re concise and too the point, you’re considered pushy and rude. Learn to be clear and concise, and don’t worry about coming off as rude.
Find a trusted senior colleague and ask them to mentor you. A good mentor will be someone who has been successful, wants to see you succeed, and will be honest with you about your performance, both good and bad. The goal is to help you develop the areas that you need to work on, while honing the skills that you excel at. Their experience and advice can go a long way toward helping you become the leader you are trying to be.
It’s taken time for us to get to the point where women are taking leadership positions. But it’s going to take even longer to get to the point where a woman is given the same treatment and respect as a man. These tips will help you grow into your leadership role in a male-dominated business.
This guest post was authored by Rachel Jackson
Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about travelling, education and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Populationof an online resource with information about demographic statistics of world population.