When I was doctoral student studying leadership, I probably read over 300 articles, 50 books and spent a thousand hours thinking about leadership. It wasn’t until three years in and almost to the end of my degree that I ran across one of the most profound morsels of information that rocked my world.
I was blown away to find out that most of what we know about leadership was written by dudes who studied other dudes to define effective leadership. Then, their dude definitions crept into the workplace and have become the standards by which most women are measured.
To which I simply ask: men and women are different, so why should we be defined and measured by male leadership standards?
Taking a play from the awesome Girl Boss Sophia Amoruso and other feminist leaders, I’d like to help redefine how women lead boldly, fearlessly and authentically. Yep, authentic leadership is a leadership theory also coined by Bill George (definitely a dude). But that’s not what I am referring to here. I’m talking about women who lead exactly how they want, no matter the male-defined standards.
Here are my top five leadership styles based on my observations of real women leaders I’ve known.
5 Leadership Styles for #GirlBosses
For this leadership style, it’s all about interpersonal relationships. She will be the one bringing a cup of coffee to her team just because she was thinking about them or taking an hour to listen to personal woes because she truly cares. She gives and gives. And her team gives back just as much if not more. You will see her team working late hours, skipping lunch and taking calls on the weekend not because they are afraid of the consequences but because they want to do it for their awesome leader. At times, though, this leader may have a hard time dishing out criticism or—yikes—discipline if needed.
For this style, it’s all about what is achieved and how quickly. No time for talk small talk or how your goldfish died. There is work to be done and fame and glory to be realized when goals are exceeded. When the goals are not met, the problem is addressed swiftly and directly. This style of leadership motivates team members because the team is often successful, but some team members might get worn out as they try to keep up.
This style is for the woman who doesn’t really think she is a leader. As a result, she becomes that unassuming manager or cool co-worker that naturally inspires others simply because they are real and true to themselves. Soon team members will start bragging about their manager to others or everyone in the co-worker’s cube row will want to decorate their cubes the same way. This leadership style naturally gains followers because they embody the behaviors and ideas that others want to be associated with. For this leadership style, though, it may be difficult to change her mindset and embrace her leadership role.
For this style, it’s all about the power of words. This leader will make you feel like applauding after a mundane staff meeting because she has entranced you with her great speeches. She frequently inspires the team to conquer the world because the team understands the direction of the company and wants to join this leader on the journey. Yet, this visionary style might lack the ability to communicate and understand the finer details, so it is important to have team members who are vested in the details. This type of style interacts well with the Achiever style.
This style is about transparency and direct communication. This style of leadership shares often and doesn’t hold anything back. Team members working with style will feel assured that they know exactly what is going on with the company and where they stand. The team will feel better informed to make independent decisions about their work and about their careers within the company. Sometimes, this leadership style shares too much, which might demotivate or confuse the team.
Which styles do you relate to and are there other women leadership styles that you could share? What’s your style?
Marcella Gonsalves is wife, mom, program planner, writer, teacher, coach and people developer. When she is not helping people or organizations achieve their goals, she loves to drink a good espresso, talk about nutrition, or even take a kickboxing class or two. She has a diverse educational background with a bachelor of arts in journalism, master of public health and is nearly finished with a doctorate in educational leadership and management. Check out her LinkedIn profile for more details.