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Women Leaders: Stop Trying to Lead Like a Man

To be a true leader, you must establish trust and build bonds with your employees, says Simon Sinek.

Simon Sinek 2012 Inc 500 conference

Simon Sinek

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What's lacking in the world right now is not women leaders, but rather leaders who lead like women, said best-selling leadership author Simon Sinek, speaking at the Women Entrepreneurs Rock the World Conference in New York Wednesday.  

"In business, largely, we teach male leadership. And we are teaching you [women] how to be like men. Ignore it all. Follow your gut. Follow your instinct," he said. "And if your instinct is to look out for someone, to care for them--and maybe the numbers won't do as well this year--that's ok. It is a ridiculous notion that we all have that companies have to grow at ridiculous percentages every single year."

In fact, Sinek said, women harbor some natural tendencies that make them especially effective in leadership positions: Women tend to focus more on people than numbers and as a result are empathetic and tuned in.

Here are the four steps that Sinek recommends entrepreneurs, both male and female, take in order to become a better leader: 

1. Establish a tangible vision. 

"If you want people to help you build your vision, it must be tangible and put it into words so that they too can imagine it," said Sinek. 

Metrics are important in measuring growth and determining how close a company is to reaching its goals. However, your vision needs to be more than just becoming the "biggest, largest, fastest, most loved" company. 

2. Remember that with leadership comes self sacrifice. 

Think of leaders like parents and coaches, who take pride in their people--their family or their team. "Reinforce the bond between the boss and the employee. I will work hard for you and when you go off and accomplish great things, I will be proud," Sinek suggested.

However, that's not enough. Leadership is not just about being proud of your team and ensuring that you have common tangible goals. You have to put your staff before your own interests.

"If you want the perks of leadership, it comes at a cost. It is not free. And the cost of leadership is self interest," explained Sinek.  "If you are not willing to sacrifice yourself for your people, you don't deserve the perks of leadership. We do not feel safe at work because we know our leaders would rather sacrifice us to save the numbers than sacrifice the numbers to save us."

3. Expend the energy and time to talk to your customers and employees. 

"Zapping off emails to tell someone something- good or bad- doesn't work, " said Sinek. Instead, go to your employees and tell them in person about what kind of a job they are doing. "That time that you spent is valuable." 

While email and Internet are great for spreading and sharing information, they are not good for sharing feelings, opinions and constructive criticism. Spending time and energy talking with your employees enables you to build stronger relationships. 

4. Be a good parent. 

Just as if you were a parent, as a leader "you have the right to set goals, you have the right to set standards, you have the right to discipline when necessary," said Sinek. You should also harness the empathy of a parent.

IMAGE: LexnGer/Flickr
Last updated: May 8, 2013

JANA KASPERKEVIC is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.
@kasperka




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