By Givelle Lamano, CEO of Lamano Law Office, a woman-owned and operated criminal defense law firm located in Oakland, California.
Women have found great success in all corners of industry and business. Having to navigate challenges in traditionally male-dominated fields has led to many women adopting specific leadership skills in order to succeed.
From Serena Williams to Kamala Harris, many female role models are leading the way in their fields today. What are the traits that set them apart and distinguish them from others? Read on to learn four ways women leaders do things differently that lead to their success.
1. Adapt to Communication Styles
Communication in the workplace is something many people struggle with, and it often takes flexibility to learn to communicate effectively with many different people. Leaders who communicate with their employees the way the employee prefers can often accomplish more. Being open and flexible to change your preferred style to someone else's -- by say replacing one of your usual check-in phone calls with a casual Zoom meeting instead -- can go a long way. Consider asking employees to complete a DISC profile to better understand their work and communication style such as whether they prefer to work alone when tackling a project or in a group to hash out a game plan.
2. Amplify Others
Historically, women have struggled at times to be heard in the workplace. Perhaps they can't find a way to join a lively conversation or have experienced their idea being stolen in a team meeting. Leaders who have been through this are often better at recognizing when it happens to others -- and doing something about it. Amplifying other people's voices, especially other women or marginalized groups, is a great skill women often have. This means when you hear someone express an idea that seems to be missed or gets credited to another person, you can use your voice to amplify theirs by saying something like, "That was a great thought I heard Denise start to say. Denise, can you share more of your idea?" It credits the idea and the initial speaker at the same time.
3. Lead With Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, empathy, EQ -- these are all top terms when it comes to modern leadership. Traditional leadership models were more task-oriented, but now building interpersonal relationships, mentoring and coaching employees are all top of mind for successful leaders. Leading with empathy and connecting personally with people is an important value -- and women have often been great at this skill. In their book, 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp discuss how in many organizational cultures, fear, sadness and anger are not honored as valuable emotions to have when "doing business." One way to honor these emotions is through consistently checking in with how your team is doing, both inside and outside of work. My firm practices this in our daily huddles. Each team members checks in about how they are doing that day, whether good or bad, regardless of whether it's related to work or on a personal level. It's a space to be seen and heard, even if only for a few seconds in a day.
4. Lean In
Sheryl Sandberg famously wrote about leaning in at Facebook, and the concept took off. It was a way for people, often women, to get ahead and get engaged at work by leaning in, doing more, taking on more -- the age-old concept of "having it all," but updated for modern times. Not only do successful female executives lean in themselves, they encourage their team to do so as well. For example, once a quarter, our managers have one-on-one meetings where we ask team members to do a "rearview mirror check" to discuss what they were proud of in the last quarter, and what they would have done differently. Then, we ask what they want to achieve in the next quarter. This helps employees feel connected and supported as we identify both personal and professional goals and create habits of goal setting and leaning in.
Women leaders are effective, smart and have capitalized on their innate abilities, leading to their success in every area of business. By empathizing and finding ways to communicate differently, they can be more effective at coaching and motivating others, leading to performance gains. Women are great at giving each other a helping hand and celebrating their wins together, which further cements strong relationships.
Business is all about trust and transparent relationships -- and women often excel in these areas. May we continue to see a growth of female leaders, politicians and business owners in current and future generations.