Natural prowess of women leaders

Katie Day | Updated on: Oct 25, 2012

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I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason

Stanley Baldwin

We have all experienced good and bad managers and business people in our time, regardless of gender. There are some fundamental behaviours that are crucial to good business practice. It is the responsibility of the person concerned to undertake these behaviours, to constantly assess their own performance against the criteria and take ownership of their own ‘journey’. Not many people take the time or have the moral courage to do so.

Women are well placed in the world to take this responsibility. Our capacity for longevity of performance, emotional stamina and moral courage is huge. If women make themselves accountable at every stage of their journey they will automatically emerge as a force to be reckoned with and a benchmark of excellence for others to emulate.

Negative business behaviour

No EQ (emotional quotient)

No political awareness

Problem focused

Delegate upwards

Focus on skill rather than people

Naïve about networks

Recruits weak replicas because they are threatened by talent

Bad delegators

Operates from comfort zone of authority and not responsibility

Will manage a legacy rather than having the courage to make changes

Tries to be everyone’s friend

Will abuse their status

Positive business behaviour

Supports other people

Builds good, solid networks

Instils commitment and is a good influencer

Motivates everyone

Is self-aware and adaptable

Finds solutions not problems and will volunteer

Not averse to conflict and will manage it well

Communicates a clear vision

Has a ‘can do’ attitude

Excellent crisis management skills and is decisive

Operates with honesty and integrity and is a role model

The impact of the above on the organisation as a whole and the people within it is vast.

When the negative business skills are prevalent internally it is far more likely that a culture of mistrust, stress, uncertainty, resentment and competitiveness exists.

When positive business skills are the dominant style, conversely it is far more likely that a culture of trust, collaboration, sustainability, loyalty, collective vision and sharing exists.

Where would you prefer to work? Which business would you prefer to own and run?

If you are currently in the former and are not, at the moment, at the top rung of management, you may be sitting there thinking, ‘I’m too small to be able to make an impact, change the culture or have a say’.

I’d like to quote the wonderful Anita Roddick who said, “If you think you’re too small to have an impact on the world, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”

Good business skills

Good business skills are a combination of many attributes, virtues, skills, personality traits and communication expertise. Whenever I ask groups I work with, “What makes a good manager” the same words always appear.

Enthusiasm: For the team; people in the organisation; the company; their role; role of others; new ideas; vision; and ‘can do’ attitudes.

Integrity: A grounded, moral mind set; sticking to a code of conduct; being clear of their values and living them; trustworthy and honest; incapable of being corrupt.

Warmth: Having a genuine and sincere interest in the welfare of others; being approachable and open; allowing mistakes through learning; empowering others to succeed and grow.

Courage: The ability to tackle crises with determination; moral firmness; vision; take appropriate risks; and create a feeling of protection and safety within others.

Judgement: Making appropriate decisions, however hard; solving problems head-on rather than hiding behind their authority; being good judges of character and seeing the best in others.

Tough but fair: Showing gentleness and compassion without being ‘soft’; having a realistic vision of themselves and others; showing strength and firmness but able to adapt and be flexible; being balanced in their treatment of people.

Let’s face it, this isn’t just how we work, this is how we live. We do all of this in our sleep, unconsciously, without even thinking about it. We are born leaders, we do it every day, in every situation, naturally, easily, without thought or planning. Believe it, own it, and transfer that ‘knowing’ into the workplace.

Let’s look at other areas of performing well in life and business

There are other dimensions to being effective in life and work. We’ll take a look at these now.

Managing your energy

Minimising the lack

How do you manage your work/life balance?

How good are you at prioritising - both at work and at home?

How good are you at maintaining enthusiasm?

Topping up

How good are you at keeping your energy levels overflowing?

How good are you at keeping focused and not letting distractions take you off course?

Being in the ‘flow’

Do you manage to be so engaged with projects that you are not aware of time — are you ‘in time’ or ‘on time’ focused?

When in flow, how do you maintain your energy levels and not allow yourself to become drained?

Can-do mindset

Being self-aware

Do you acknowledge your skills and talents regularly?

Do you give yourself a pat on the back when appropriate?

Staying positive

How well do you cope with change and challenges?

How much do you ‘buy in’ to the collective negativity of others?

Moving forward

Can you shake off negative experiences and not take them personally?

Do you pass the buck and blame, or take responsibility and ownership?

Making contacts Building networks

Do you have them? How good are you at it, internally and externally?

Empowerment of other people — how much do you help others?


It is all about what you get out of others, or do you understand and operate with a win-win mindset — you help other people succeed as your first priority?

Being inclusive

Are you able to see the people you work with as ‘people’ who bring the whole range of human emotions with them to the office?

Are you willing to ask for help when you need it?

Being visible

Do you manage to have a strong voice, especially in a male-dominated arena?

How happy are you to accept praise and take credit where credit is due, allowing yourself to shine?


How much do you own your journey of life?

Do you allow other people to dictate your progress?

Taking risk

Are you happy to accept that the status quo is not always possible and sometimes taking risks is part of your job?

How much do you retreat into the background for safety?


Do you always have the end goal in mind, and are you never prepared to go off track, ever?

Or are you prepared to explore other avenues, being open to the knowledge that you don’t know everything?

Life purpose Being happy

I have a cover for my iPhone that says “Life’s too short not to love what you do.” How much do you love what you do?

Are you head or heart-led? Are you willing to accept that sometimes your heart knows better?

Are you happy letting everyone else know how amazing you are?

Leaving your ‘dent’ in the universe

What impact do you want your time on earth to have?

How will people benefit from you being here, perhaps even after you’ve gone?

Think about yourself and all of the above. What are you currently honouring with how you live your life right now? Are there any areas you would like to address and improve on?

(Extracted with permission from The High-heeled Leader — Embrace your feminine power in life and work by Katie Day, published by Balboa Press.)

Published on October 25, 2012
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