7 Essential Leadership Skills For Women To Become Courageous Leaders

I want women around the world to have the courage to step in, stand up, start up and lead! Let’s be the change and courage we want to see. When thinking about leadership skills for women, we often hear that we have the skills to be great leaders, but we don’t often get the chance to show them.

While the media often portrays women as leaders in the media, it’s not always as easy to take the next step in the workplace. For example, as of March 2022, female directorships at Australia’s 200 largest companies were 34.6%.

That is why it is important to develop leadership skills so that it is possible to overcome these obstacles and become successful leaders.

In today’s workplace, women face many challenges regarding their careers. Some of these include a lack of female role models and mentors, unconscious bias in hiring decisions and a lack of opportunities for roles in senior management.

In this blog post, I will explore the value of a female perspective in leadership and how to develop your skills to best position yourself to be successful in courageous leadership roles. 

What Are Women’s Leadership Skills?

Women have natural leadership skills that they use to get things done. They are not afraid to show their emotions and are excellent at building relationships with their people. Women also have a natural ability to empathise with other people. They can connect emotionally, which is why they are often great leaders.

Leadership skills for women are often different from men’s. The qualities, skills and styles that make a woman an exceptional leader are often quite different from those of their male counterparts.

While it is true that some traits are universal to all leaders regardless of gender, there are also many differences between how women and men lead.

Skills that make women influential leaders include:

 ●     Empathy: Women are very good at understanding the feelings of others and often use this skill to make connections with people.

●     Building relationships: Women are good at nurturing relationships and supporting those around them.

●     Being expressive: Women do not shy away from showing their emotions or using them to connect with others or garner support.

“I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.” — Marie Curie

Why Are Leadership Skills Important For Women?

Leadership skills are important for women because they are still underrepresented in leadership roles.

Women make up half of the world’s population, but in 2021 held only 26% of positions as CEO or managing director globally.

In addition to this imbalance, women often face challenges related to their gender when they get leadership opportunities.

For example, according to research by Carnegie Mellon University’s Joanna Wolfe, men talk and interrupt more often than women. Women are more likely than men to be interrupted during speaking and meetings.

Another study found that being assertive was negatively correlated with likability ratings, and women have also been labelled as ‘hysterical’ when required to use forceful communication.

Developing practical leadership skills for women can help you to create a unique leadership perspective and apply your approach to team development, problem-solving, and understanding how to use influential leadership to drive real organisational change.

Are you interested in becoming an effective leader? You’ll need leadership skills beyond knowing how to use your voice effectively.

Are you attending my Courageous Women in Leadership Tour

What Are The Most Important Leadership Skills For Women?

Women have a unique perspective regarding leadership, problem-solving and team development, which can drive the best results for their team and the organisation.

For you to be successful as a woman in leadership, it is essential to develop several skills. They include:

1.  Confidence

Confidence is the ability to trust your instincts, your ability to make good decisions and the choices that you make.

Confidence is indeed the key to success.

With a high level of confidence as a woman in leadership, you can take on any challenge that comes your way and achieve success.

Confidence is the most powerful leadership skill you can have as a woman. Still, it does not come naturally for everyone.

You’ll most likely experience feelings of imposter syndrome or wonder if the advice “fake it til you make it” is such a good idea.

Confidence is such a huge factor that women generally only apply for a position if they meet 100% of the qualifications. In contrast, men will apply even if they only meet 60%.

But luckily, there are many ways to build up your confidence. If you are looking for a way to get more confident at work, here are some tips that will help you:

●     Start with setting small goals that are realistic and achievable

●     Dress for success

●     Hold your head up high

●     Take care of your mental and physical health

●     Associate with other successful and confident women

●     Know your work inside and out (this won’t happen overnight but is something to work on gradually)

So what does confidence look like in action? It’s about being unafraid of taking risks, even if those risks don’t necessarily work out every time.

It’s about being willing and able to fail forward by learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities for growth.

Confidence allows you to be bold in conversations with others or when making requests or suggestions. It also lets people know that they can trust you because they know they won’t get an unexpected response from you.

2.  Clarity

Clarity is the ability to see things clearly. It is the power to perceive and understand things accurately as they really are. The ability to be clear is an essential skill for women in leadership.

You should always be clear about your goals and expectations so that the people you lead know how to help you achieve them. They should also know what they can expect from you as a leader and how their work will contribute to achieving those goals.

“We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to nurture our strengths.” —Jo Miller

3.  Willingness

Many skills make a great leader, but few are more important than being willing to take risks and work from your female perspective.

If you’re not willing to try something new or go after something you want, you won’t be able to reach your full potential as a leader.

When taking a stand, the best leaders don’t wait for someone else to tell them what they should do. Instead, they know their values and beliefs and stick by them no matter what’s happening around them.

For any team or business to succeed, it needs people willing to change. The world around us is constantly changing—and if we don’t keep up with those changes, we’ll fall behind our competitors. So it also needs a courageous leader to offer support in times of change.

When you’re working hard and willing to think outside the box, it may not always work in your favour. But if you’re trying something new, you’re still learning from it and growing as a woman and leader!

According to research by several leading Universities in Europe, women are significantly less likely to want to become team leaders than men.

Being willing to apply for leadership roles is one of the most critical skills for women to develop. Be ready and willing to put yourself out there when the opportunity presents itself and reach your true potential.

4.  Understanding

Understanding why you make a positive difference within your team is vital for personal and professional growth. In addition, you should be able to see the impact of your work on the people around you and how you affect them.

For example, if you are a manager, understanding the situation includes understanding the company’s goals and how each department fits into them.

Understanding people includes understanding what motivates them, what they need to succeed, and how they like to work.

To solve a problem, you first have to be able to understand it. Knowing what you are trying to solve and how it will affect other aspects of your team and business is essential.

Understanding the consequences of your decisions and how they will affect others in your team and organisation is also imperative. Being a strong female leader means assessing the risks and deciding to proceed.

5.  Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is a powerful leadership tool. It can also be learned, practised, and developed. It’s contagious and a great way to build a team.

In leadership, you want your team to be enthusiastic about what they’re doing because it will inspire and make them more productive. The more enthusiastic your team becomes, the more successful you will be as a leader!

To develop enthusiasm, we need to find something in our lives that makes us feel passionate or enthusiastic about what we are doing. For example, are there certain aspects of your job that you love?

Also, it’s only natural to have tasks you’re not enthusiastic about and wish wasn’t part of your role. In these situations, try to think of the outcome of completing them and become enthusiastic about the benefits it will provide once completed. Also, offer your team an incentive to look forward to once the goal is met.

6.  Determination

Determination is the ability to stay focused on your goals, no matter what. It’s the ability to keep going even when it gets tough and you don’t feel like it anymore.

It’s also knowing that even if things seem hopeless now, they can be different tomorrow.

Regarding women’s leadership skills, determination is crucial for overcoming setbacks, keeping up with a demanding pace and maintaining confidence in times of uncertainty or emotional turbulence.

Determination comes from within—and this is where we see some pretty significant differences between men and women in leadership roles (and outside of them).

According to studies, Men tend to be more goal-oriented than women; and define their lives by goals.

This doesn’t mean that all women aren’t goal-oriented enough; many out there set ambitious visions for themselves and go after them with passion and purposefulness.

But generally, women are more likely to prioritise relationship goals over achievement when making decisions about their life direction.

7.  Self Awareness

Self-Awareness is an essential leadership skill for women to possess. When you are in tune with yourself and can accurately assess your strengths and weaknesses, it allows you to understand better how others perceive you.

Self-awareness will allow you to respond more effectively under stress or conflict. This is because it gives you an understanding of what’s happening inside yourself so that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to make decisions or take action.

Having this awareness also allows us greater access to our own emotions. Doing so empowers you as a leader to have more control over them rather than being controlled by them.

How To Become A Courageous Leader?

Becoming a courageous leader is not about being perfect. It is about being brave enough to take risks and be authentic.

You can develop essential leadership skills for women in a few different ways. First, you can try to find a workplace mentor or spend more time with other courageous women leaders.

Although you may find it difficult to network or not know anyone you can turn to for support.

Another great option is to undertake a courageous women’s leadership program or workshop that empowers women and helps them to unlock their courage and unique leadership potential.

Final Thoughts – Leadership Skills For Women

I hope you have gained a better understanding of the essential leadership skills for women to help you become a successful and courageous leader.

Leadership is a skill that you can learn. It isn’t something that you are just born with or not.

Most importantly, leadership is not just about the title or the position.

Women must develop their leadership skills because they bring value to an organisation’s leadership position. In addition, women add new perspectives, ideas, and approaches and bring out the best qualities in others.

So now it’s time to start practising and developing these skills. Doing so will help you when faced with tough decisions or challenges in work (and life). You’ll know precisely how best to handle them and excel.

Women need self-confidence, clarity, willingness, understanding, enthusiasm, determination, and self-awareness to lead a team and organisation effectively and successfully.

So, are you ready to develop your leadership skills for women and to become courageous leaders?

Book Sonia today to speak at your next event, conference or workshop

Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, keynote speaking, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and Conferences. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.

She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs. She is also rated as one of the Australia’s motivational keynote speakers.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is a leading coach, an award-winning published author of newly released First Comes Courage, Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and has become an in-demand motivational keynote speaker on leadership, kindness and courage.

Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, kindness, empathy and courage as well as building outstanding leadership across the Globe.