Boss Lady

7 Powerful leadership strategies for women


Martin Schneider is a Philadelphia-based recruiter. He recently shared an experience on Twitter that went viral. He switched emails with a female coworker for two weeks. Having his emails signed with a woman’s name introduced him to a whole new world.

When communicating with his clients as a man, Schneider was used to respecting, professionalism, and responsiveness. His suggestions and advice were easily accepted. His abilities were not questioned.

As a woman, his experiences were entirely different. Every suggestion he made was questioned. Clients were condescending. One even asked if he was single. On the other hand, his co-worker suddenly found herself being treated with a level of respect and courtesy that she wasn’t used to.

Welcome to the club, Martin Schneider. The world where women must excel in order to be treated the same as men who are merely adequate. So, what can women do to earn respect and get things done? They can start by applying these powerful leadership strategies.

1. Take a page from the women in the Obama administration

The formerpresident, Obama’s first presidential campaign was largely staffed by men. His first appointees, advisers, and aides were also largely male. Many of the women who were on his staff found it difficult to be heard. Because of this, they worked together and implemented a strategy called amplification.

Here’s how it worked. When they were in strategy sessions or meetings, the women would take action whenever another woman had an idea or suggestion. Another woman would repeat the idea giving credit to the woman who originated the idea. They would then repeat this tactic a few more times.

This ensured that the idea got the time and consideration it deserved. It also prevented the idea from being reintroduced later and then credited to a male staffer. This technique was so effective that the president himself began calling on the women on his team more often. By the time his second term came about, Obama’s team was much more balanced.

 2. Stop helping people

  • Sure! I’ll show the new trainee the ropes.
  • It’s not a problem to pick those marketing slicks up from the printer.
  • I don’t mind heading up the United Way committee this year.
  • You have a lot on your plate. I can take care of the visuals for your presentation.

Aren’t these just things that someone does when they’re a team player? Isn’t this showing initiative and a willingness to work hard? Surely people appreciate these things. Don’t they?

As it turns out, not so much. While you may receive thanks in the moment, women who take on undervalued, low recognition tasks, often known as office housework, don’t receive any more respect. Doing these things doesn’t make people think of you as a leader.

In fact, it could have the opposite effect. When the powers that be are trying to decide who is going to head up the next bit project, they aren’t going to choose the person waters the office plants and acts as an assistant to their coworkers.

3. Change your vocabulary

Without even thinking about it, many women say things at work that diminish them in the eyes of their coworkers. These words and phrases make it seem as if you don’t see your words worthy of respect, that you shouldn’t be regarded as professionalism, and that your ideas are an afterthought. Take the following words and phrases out of your vocabulary, or at least limit their use.

  • Just – I just need those reports. I just wanted to let you know… I was just wondering if…
    This is a permission word. It’s not as bad as ‘May I please’, but it’s definitely up there. By using this word, you sound as if you are apologizing in advance for making a request or stating something. Replace these with direct questions and statements. For example, I just need those reports becomes I need those reports.
  • I’m Sorry – I’m sorry, can we get the meeting started. I’m sorry, I need you to stay late.
    There are times to say I’m sorry. These include when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, when you’ve cause an inconvenience, or when you did not follow through on a promise. Stop apologizing for asking others to do their jobs and requesting what you need to do yours.
  • I Think – I think we should meet on Friday. I think Mike Jones is the best candidate.
    The phrase I think weakens whatever follows it. If you are making a statement of fact, you’ve just turned that fact into an opinion. If you’re stating an opinion, you’ve just made that opinion a little less powerful. It’s okay to make statements without prefacing them.
  • Exclamation Points Smiley Faces And Emoticons – Thanks! 🙂
    You’ll rarely see a man using exclamation points or emojis. No, it’s not because women are less mature or attracted to frivolous means of communication. It’s because women are taught to say and do things to soften their words. Hence, happy little exclamation points and happy faces to ensure the recipient that we aren’t being brusk or demanding.

4. Become a thought leader and subject matter expert

Your chances to become a leader aren’t just limited to the work day. You can create opportunities to be viewed as a leader on your own time as well. One way to do this is to establish a professional presence online. Leaders in many industries do this by creating their own personal websites, maintaining blogs, even writing articles for industry publications. The more you share your valuable thoughts and insights the higher regard people will have for your opinions.

Of course, getting started can be difficult. If you aren’t a copywriter or content marketer by trade, you may not know the ins and outs of writing to draw traffic to your blog or website. Fortunately, there are many content providers who can help you get started. Just pick one that has earned the best website ratings.

5.Take care of yourself

Do leaders often work long hours and take on difficult tasks? Absolutely. What they don’t do is martyr themselves or sacrifice their well-being for the good of the team. Take a look at the C-suite staff where you work. Chances are, most of them take their vacation time. Now, look at some of the most well-known business leaders in the world. World famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson take vacations, prioritize family, and stay active outside of the job.

In some ways, this is a bit like the point about being too helpful on the job. You may think that you are earning respect by being the one to give up their days off or to work longer days than anyone else. In reality, the person who is assertive enough to say, ‘No, I won’t be available. I’ll be on vacation. Somebody else needs to take care of this.’, is often the one who is treated with more respect.

6. Learn to delegate

The more time you spend on tasks that allow you to shine, the more likely you are to be viewed as a leader. When you are faced with a task, put it into one of the following categories.

  • Things That I Can do That Increase my Value to The Organization
  • Things That I Must do (Administrative Tasks That Fall Within Your Job Description)
  • Tasks That Can be Delegated
  • This is Someone Else’s Job

The more time you spend on the first, the better. The second is unavoidable. Anything falling into the last two categories should be delegated or turned down.

Doing this isn’t selfish. Teams are best served when everyone involved does the work that they were hired to do. Your ability to delegate helps everyone. If there aren’t enough people to cover all of the tasks that need to be accomplished, that’s either a hiring issue or a division of tasks problem.

7. Know the skills you don’t have and build them up

Be honest with yourself. Do an assessment of your soft and hard skills. What are you missing? For example, women are often taught to compromise and to avoid criticizing people. The former can have a negative impact on your negotiating skills. The latter can make it difficult for you to effectively lead teams that need to improve through honest feedback and critique.

Next, consider your technical skills. Are they where they need to be. Sometimes women are encouraged to build soft skills such as customer service, but not to learn the newest technologies in their industry. Figure out what you need to learn to move up in your company. Then, find a way to get the training that you need. Ideally, if your company is forward thinking, they will provide that training for you.


The path to leadership is simply different for most women. Some of this involves navigating different expectations that have been laid out for us. In other ways, we simply have to move past ways of thinking, behaving, and speaking that limit our potential. Try using some of the techniques mentioned here. You’ll find that they change the way others view your leadership abilities.

About Malia Keirsey

Malia Keirsey is an experienced writer for from Chicago. She is fond of writing about education, business, entrepreneurship, and inspiration. Contact Malia via Twitter.

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  1. Sofia

    May 13, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    The post which we creating should be have some thoughts and relevance.



    September 3, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve been chasing down this!

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