Women Who Lead: The Likeability Dilemma!

by Team Conscious Carma

Nona WaliaAre women leaders disadvantaged by ‘likeability bias’ when they take leadership roles? How do we raise a generation of women leaders? What does it take to become a super leader?

How do we perceive women displaying assertiveness, power and strength? Is ‘ambition’ still a dirty word when it comes to women. When women lead, does stereotype bias follow them. Documentarian Robin Hauser has debated the dilemma between competence and likability faced by women in leadership roles. Should women at workplace be bothered by criticism? Why are women in powerful roles labelled as – bossy, arrogant and hyper? Is it time to free women leaders from these gender stereotypes? It seems women have to work twice as hard to be liked at work if they’re in a leadership role. Women who lead – what does it take to create a generation of new women leaders? Can we give girls a conducive environment to grow thereby create more women leaders of tomorrow? Invisibility at work is the biggest setback to your career growth as a potential leader.

Alicia Menendez writes in her book The Likeability Trap, “Women face likeability penalty from hiring to promotions.” Her advice: If you are not rising or getting promoted, look elsewhere. To be both likeable and successful is walking a tough tightrope. Simply craving for success makes women less likeable. At every turn, it seems women are asked to choose between success and likeability. Infact, this likeability trap is what makes women hold themselves back. Stanford professor Deborah Gruenfeld has been exploring alternatives to the narrative of the likeability penalty.

In her work with women leaders at the Graduate School of Business, Gruenfeld finds that too much focus likeability penalty limits women’s focus to the actions required to lead. She urges women to be more confident in their abilities. Instead of focusing on likability, women can find new ways to be successful as leaders, such as sharing what they know, “but in a way that is generous.” Women who lead need to: Balance inclusiveness with decisiveness; cultivate personal agility; recalibrate risk tolerance; learn to get comfortable with power; consider multiple perspectives and practice right communication tone. Be labelled as energetic, problem=solvers and action-oriented.

It is time women rise as leaders in different spheres. Success is nothing but action and attitude. To raise more women leaders, women should not underestimate their value and self-worth. They are unstoppable force, and can direct conversations in the boardroom and within the organization. Psychology Today highlights in an article, “While we place great emphasis on leadership development today, we often do little to address issues of diversity and leadership. These are about competencies as a process as opposed to a specific skill. Learning “who you are” and what of yourself you bring to your leadership is an important first start.”

For women, being a leader is often an oxymoron. The urge to be liked is a powerful force in the workplace. Careers of women depend on who their bosses: Like and don’t like. If a workplace doesn’t align with you, leave. Women need to think themselves to be natural leaders like men.

How Women Can Train to be Leaders:

Be anti-fragile.

Take action.

Don’t miss opportunities. See opportunity in everything.

Learn how to be open, supportive and collaborative.

Learn how to network.

Create a mindset of strength.

Be a magnet of energy and action.

Break unseen barriers.

Enable women to move up.

Push women to take risks.

Women should not be reluctant to speak up or withhold their opinion. Encourage women to speak up and be heard.

Learn empathetic leadership style.

Women should be cheerleaders for other women. Learn to support women.

Be Prepared to Lead

Build courage & strength: Have emotional strength; having the resolve to take risks even if no one else agrees.

Be resilient:  Stand up to being different and overcoming negative perceptions and expectations.

Have authenticity and integrity: You build your own reputation.

Be super confident: Believe in yourself. You don’t have to keep proving yourself.

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