Confident Leader

5+1 tips: how to behave like a leader


There have been many discussions why the percentage of female business leaders is still so remarkably low – even more so in the startup world. Is it because women are not smart enough? Is it because they shy away from responsibility? Is it because they are risk-averse? Or do men consciously try to hold them back? Or is it because they don’t know how to behave like a leader when needed?

I believe it is that last question, which revolves around how we see ourselves, and as a result how we behave in the working world. Here is my take on how to behave like a leader from 10 years of experience in surgery, business consulting as well as the startup industry.

1. Feel entitled to lead

Do you know those people who enter a room, walk straight to the center and everybody goes quiet to listen to what they have to say? Be one of them. It all starts with your understanding of your own role. The most important person to believe you can pull this off is yourself.

2. Understand what people expect a leader to be

I’ve heard a tremendous amount of women tell me that they repeatedly received feedback on their leadership skills – more precisely their lack of them. Most of them did absolutely not understand why they would receive such feedback, when the measurable output of their work was brilliant. The answer is fairly simple. We all (yes, including us sisters) have a picture in our heads of what a leader looks like. This picture was formed by generations of (mostly male) politicians, revolutionaries, CEOs, and sports captains. We expect a leader to be self-confident, strong – and yes sometimes even a bit aggressive. So this is what you need to show. If you can´t make it, fake it until you can.

3. Know your agenda, know your numbers

The difference between a leader and a worker bee is that a leader defines the agenda (even if, especially in a startup context, taking a piece of it and executing it on a very operational level). Ask yourself every day “What are the 3 most important topics for this company – and why?” and make sure you understand the top level numbers at any given moment. If you honestly have to admit that you don´t know your revenues, your costs, your number of orders, the number of employees working for you, then you’re spending your time on the wrong stuff. Frequently communicate your agenda to the team. Ask for feedback on it, and adjust if the facts suggest you should – and always keep in mind that if there is too much on your table to do it all, rather loose the operational stuff, but never the prioritization.

4. Speak up

Have you ever wondered how people in a group know who is at the top of the food chain without it being clearly stated?  It’s not so much about what you say – it´s more about when you say it, and how. So make sure to speak up early on during a meeting. If you don´t, no one will listen to you once it starts to be about content. It´s like signaling to the crowd “I am here, I am awake, I have important thoughts to add”. Don´t be too polite and let others interrupt you easily. Letting others interrupt you is a pretty clear sign to everyone else that what you have to say is (at least in your own eyes) less important than what the other person has to say. Is it?

5. Take room

It´s common knowledge by now that body language is extremely important. But girls, seriously, it is. I agree that it is so much more relaxed to just fold on your chair into a tiny little package. But it absolutely does not look confident. If you don´t sit up straight, lean back relaxed, and take your room you make it extremely hard for others to understand you are a leader.


+1  Appreciate feedback – positive and negative

With all of the above, you are pretty well set up as a leader. Now one thing I have seen very often is that women tend to react differently to feedback from men.  Please always consider feedback as a gift. Some gifts are more valuable or welcome than others. It’s your choice what you do with it. Do me a favor and never react emotionally to feedback. People usually don´t want to attack you as a person when giving feedback – they want to help. They can be right or wrong, or a bit of both. It´s important you stay objective enough to tell which part is true, valuable and helpful for you, and make something out of it. Never let feedback demotivate you, or scatter your self-confidence. You have been important enough to someone for them to give you their honest opinion – and that is already quite an achievement.

About Patricia Moubarak

Patricia Moubarak is the Managing Director, co-founder and COO of nestpick. A former surgeon at University Hospital, Munich, she transferred her clinical skills of precision and accuracy into the world of business. After 7 years at consultancy firm McKinsey and Company, Patricia was Global Managing Director at Foodpanda before joining nestpick. She now leads nestpick’s development and continuing expansion.

    Recommended for you

    1 Comment

    1. Pingback: A Background In Key Criteria Of Online Hookup | My Kleid Oscope World Technology

    What Do You Think?

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *