It is my opinion we don’t have a problem with women leaders, we have a problem with people following women.
Maybe it is because of my background as a Marine but I’ve never had a problem with following women. In fact, some of the best leaders I have had the pleasure of serving, both in and out of the military, have been women. Personally, I don’t see a bit of difference in male and female leadership. I get that “Women’s Leadership” is a niche born out of necessity but my hope is one day that need goes away. Leadership is a human thing that doesn’t care about gender. You either have it or you work to get it.
But, after reading an article on Forbes titled “10 Commandments For Women In Leadership” I decided to write this article as sort of a companion piece. The ability to follow is just as important as the ability to lead. I want you to walk away from this changed and ready to follow women into the future, if you aren’t already.
Again, good leadership is good leadership regardless of race, sex, or religious affiliation.
On to the list!
1 – Get your ego out of the way.
It is natural to want to pick apart the actions of a leader. The natural intent, however, is to make sure they are living up to their end of the deal. Meaning, are they looking out for the welfare of the team. Where this becomes dangerous is when your ego joins the conversation. This becomes especially dangerous when the leader is a women and you already have trouble following women.
So, get your ego out of the way and give her a fair chance!
2 – Don’t belittle her journey.
She worked very hard to get where she is now. She has faced situations you, as a man, will never understand. If you are a woman, you probably get it so why are you going to tear her down? She is paving a path for you. Both male and female followers will benefit from her experiences. Don’t make assumptions that she took some easy way to her position. And that leads to number three…
3 – Don’t assume she slept her way there.
First of all, that is an asinine thing to think. It is a mind-set that absolutely breaks commandment number 2 all to hell and back. More importantly it has no place existing in the modern workforce. I promise you this much, if you have that thought then you are definitely part of the problem!
4 – Don’t let your biases ruin the experience.
We all have biases. Yours may be towards women. Be aware of them, control them, and don’t let them ruin the experience. She may very well be the best leader you’ve had. Do you want to miss that because of a bias against following women?
5 – Your man card is secure.
Few of these are aimed directly at men but this is one. I’ve heard men refuse to follow women thinking it somehow will make them less of a man. Well, BS. Being so insecure in your manhood you aren’t open to following women actually DOES make you less of a man, though. So, now what?
6 – Do not undermine her.
Remember me talking about all the things she has been through that you just won’t understand if you are a man? Well, a big part of that is being undermined by people who have a problem with strong females taking on leadership roles. Don’t be the next one on the list of problems she has dealt with! Which leads to number six…
7 – Be supportive.
Break that cycle and show support. Sure, some knuckle dragger may think you are sucking up to the boss. Heck, they may even accuse YOU of trying to get in her pants to further your career. (You see the irony in that one right?) But, no matter what, be supportive. When she fails, you fail. When she succeeds, you succeed. Isn’t team success the goal of both the leader and the follower?
8 – She is human.
This means she has strengths and weaknesses just like any man. Don’t give her weaknesses a magical multiplier just because she is a woman. Help fill those weak areas like you would any other leader. That is how you improve your team and yourself.
9 – Be ready to learn.
Again, she will have strengths and have endured things you don’t fully understand. These are areas where she can help you improve, too. Be ready to learn from her and her experiences.
10 – Fix yourself.
If you read this and any of these really apply to you then you are the problem. Good news is that can be fixed. So, fix yourself. In order to be a great leader one day you must first be a great follower. Following women might be the piece you are missing to unlock your potential.