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*some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

This month’s newsletter is going to address three ways women can balance being strong leaders with remaining authentic.

For women in c-suite and senior leadership, a common phenomenon is that it can feel lonely at the top. One of the aspects of senior leadership that many of my clients talk about that impacts their feelings of loneliness is the overwhelming need to conform. Whether it is a feeling to conform to the culture, societal rules, others’ perceptions, or whatever it means to appear to be “leader-like” to be taken seriously as a leader or get the job done. Over the last 4 years, I’ve surveyed and interviewed thousands of women and discovered that 90% of women working in male-dominated industries encounter 2 main challenges. The 1st is feeling as though they aren’t leading authentically, and, the 2nd is that many also report feeling overlooked and/or undervalued.

As women, there are unique challenges that we face as leaders in the business world, whether we work in the corporate world or own our own businesses. Unfortunately, it can seem like the world, in general, doesn’t know how to interpret female leadership, which can cause us to feel isolated, and unable to access the right types of opportunities to take our careers to the next level.

Like my client, a Sr. Executive was the highest performer within her department. She wanted to level up in her career, but she was conflicted by her fears about not being taken seriously as a leader and failing. In addition, she had been battling with navigating the politics that come with playing at a bigger level, and in order to share her ideas in meetings, she felt as though she had to utilize her male allies to vocalize for her to gain buy-in. As a result, she felt both frustrated and powerless.

We’ll talk more about my client’s journey later on. Before we talk about how to be authentic, let’s talk about why it’s important.

As I mentioned earlier, we as women aren’t always true to ourselves. To live up to organizational expectations and norms, we may exhibit behaviors that sometimes go against our values. It is important to note that it takes a lot of energy to behave in ways that are out of alignment with our true values, priorities, hopes, characteristics, and style.

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Remaining authentic is the best way to balance your professional and personal life. Individual authenticity is also important for organizations because authenticity allows us to bring our best selves to our jobs and remain fully engaged in the workplace. Organizations that foster authenticity are more likely to have committed, engaged, happy employees and inclusive workplaces that promote trust. Researchers with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) surveyed and interviewed 61 women who ranged in age from 26 to 58 (with an average age of 40) about the choices and trade-offs facing high-achieving women in managerial and executive roles. Most indicated their careers were extremely important to them, and many had been with their organization for a number of years. Authenticity emerged as one of five themes influencing women’s careers and life choices.

 

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The results of the CCL study also revealed that women have to work to become and remain authentic, reviewing their priorities and choosing behaviors that reflect those priorities as circumstances change. This means that you must continually review and balance your personal and professional priorities.

For women in c-suite and senior leadership positions with a far range of responsibilities, remaining authentic requires a constant effort, including overcoming hurdles–from societal norms to organizational cultures.

But, it’s not impossible.

I recommend these 3 ways to balance being strong leaders with remaining authentic:

Increase Your Self Awareness

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Getting clear about your leadership strengths and development needs can help you to develop strategies to remain successful in your career. Self-awareness is essential for leadership development and is critical to mastering an ever-evolving work atmosphere. For women in c-suite and senior leadership, we must learn to continuously navigate organizational contexts in order to succeed. Improving your self-awareness will allow you to increase your ability to identify and understand emotions in yourself and others and use this awareness to manage your own behavior, interactions, and relationships.

Get Clear Regarding Your Values

Values are the core beliefs that drive our decisions and actions. While leadership values are a subgroup of those values that influence one’s ability to lead successfully. Everyone has values, but not all leaders exhibit good leadership values. Understanding the connection between your personal values and your company’s values will help improve your leadership effectiveness. Gaining additional information about your leadership effectiveness can be gathered through the assessment and feedback process, such as through a 360-degree assessment. This tool is usually based on confidential feedback from chosen colleagues or direct reports and provides essential information regarding a leader’s values, strengths, and areas for growth.

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Get Support Taking Action

In your professional development, getting support from an expert such as an Executive Coach can help you achieve your goals. Executive Coaching can inspire and empower you to develop authentic strategies to create a professional brand that you’re confident in and increase your ability to lead authentically at higher levels.

If you’d like to discover how we help our clients have next-level influence and impact in their careers while staying true to who they are, click here to learn more.

Client Success Spotlight: From Overwhelmed to Exhibiting Control

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Remember my client, the Sr. Executive? Well, her name is Lisa, and we took her through some critical steps to help her raise her self-awareness, identify blind spots, and dig deep to identify the source of her lack of confidence.

We also helped her to:

  • Deeply assess her current leadership strengths and areas of needed growth
  • Increase clarity and alignment with her current professional goals
  • Identify her key leadership advantage to Amplify her Authority and lead with authenticity

 As a result, she remained true to her values and better aligned her thoughts and behaviors. She was also able to gain professional clarity and identify a clear strategy for promotion. Lisa was also brave enough to make the internal shifts needed to show up more Powerfully as the leader she truly is. She trusted her decisions and remained confident while speaking in meetings, sharing her ideas, and advocating for herself. Fast forward 1 year later, Lisa was promoted to a VP position at a major firm.

But it all first began with her doing the internal work.

If you are a woman in a c-suite or senior leadership role and you’re ready to tap into your Power, successfully navigate office politics, and make a bigger impact in your career, apply today for a confidential consult.

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