5 Ways to Embrace Leadership as a Woman
With more and more women achieving roles in business ownership and management, gone are the days when it was unusual to hear of female bosses and managers. Of course, men still dominate these positions, and young girls are still not encouraged to pursue these roles as much as young boys are.
As a result, women who do successfully open their own business or franchise might find themselves feeling under-prepared for what this new chapter in their life will bring. It’s likely that they haven’t been armed with as much intrinsic understanding of leadership as they’d like, and the job that they face will be a very tough one because of this.
As a BFA award-winning female franchise owner, I’m eager to share some of the tips I picked up throughout the years I’ve worked with Rainbow International – specialists in the male-dominated world of restoration.
These are the rules I live by to fully embrace my role as a female leader.
1. Be Prepared to Work Hard
It’s not common for women to be brought up with a future in company directorship or management in mind. Boys and men are more likely to be invited into conversations surrounding the inner workings of a company. Because of this, you might feel a little daunted and lacking in knowledge when you first start out as a business owner.
At this stage, it’s important to know that there will be no hand-holding, and, in some ways, you are very much on your own. You won’t get extra brownie points for reaching this position against the odds.
You can look at this as a very scary prospect, or you can consider it liberating. You’re bringing something brand new to the table. If you’re willing to research, develop your skills and put the work in – beyond the regular 9 to 5, beyond what is expected of you – you can achieve great things and compete against even the most seasoned businessman.
Make sure you have a strong support network behind you and don’t burn out, but at the same time, you must trust yourself to make it on your own. I know it’s possible.
2. Be Decisive – You Can Instruct Rather Than Suggest
Women are often considered gentle and retiring, and, in some circles, that sees us sidelined and our opinions drowned out. This is generally done subconsciously, but the failure to challenge it always leaves an impression. Not just on the people who are guilty of it (they’ll see that they can keep getting away with it), but also on other members of your team (it will set a precedent that makes them feel comfortable doing it too) and, finally, on your own self esteem and faith in your leadership skills.
Don’t feel obliged to “soften” your approach in order to appease others – find the confidence to speak out, give direct instructions and firm opinions, and be forthright. Why should there be any difference between how you give instructions and how a male boss would? If people dislike this, it says more about them than about you.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Showcase Your Expertise
You are your business’s lifeblood, and your achievements – both personally and as the leader of a team – should be celebrated. Get all of your accolades on display, blow your own trumpet and praise your team publicly. As your own most senior member of staff, don’t be afraid to offer advice to your employees – or to dish out fair discipline. After all, you’re the boss – you know how things should be done – so lead by example.
Kindly correct people when they make mistakes and offer constructive criticism. Ensure, however, that you don’t lose your human side. I always try to balance being a tough, efficient boss with good humour, fairness and understanding.
4. Keep an Open Mind
It can be easy to develop a defensive shell when you’re trying to run a business and lead a team – particularly if you’ve heard horror stories about how female bosses are sometimes perceived. Try to avoid this.
Listen to your team and others around you, take on board constructive criticism and respond reasonably to gripes and complaints without taking them personally. If a staff member gets something wrong, was it entirely their fault, or is there something that you and other staff members can learn from it in order to improve your services?
5. Pass It On
You’ve been given a fantastic opportunity, but it shouldn’t end there. You’re now in a position to support others and help them to grow as professionals. Try to be a role model for other ambitious women, but don’t leave it there. As a leader, you are well placed to be there for anyone on your team, of any age, gender or background. Use that power!
Most importantly – remember to rest. Women are often expected to be great multitaskers, but we’re also only human. All of the above approaches take time to develop, so don’t expect to achieve it all overnight. Work hard, yes, but remember to relax and spend time with the people you love. A healthy mind is the foundation of a healthy business.
About The Author
Jennie Mills, who is the proud owner of a Rainbow International franchise in Derbyshire, has owned her business since 2015. Diligent and passionate, she is the proud owner of bfa Young Female Franchisee of the Year 2019 and Rainbow International Franchisee of the Year 2018. Jennie took advantage of one of Rainbow’s franchise opportunities in fire and flood restoration and hasn’t looked back since. Rainbow International offers a number of franchises for sale in various locations.