Being a woman in a position of leadership is getting a lot of buzz right now. There’s one who almost became president, there’s one being put on the $20 Dollar Note, and the list of accomplishments is growing by the day... Although it is great to see the state-of-things glowing with energy surrounding the issues of the glass ceiling and the impact of women CEO’s going way back, but with all due respect to these issues coming more into the light, the reality is that women in general have been demonstrating leadership, through amazing feats that rival many men competing for their positions, all while making contributions to history, over many millennia. This is the true leadership I draw from, as a Graduate of History studies amongst other things, I've seen that women have been facilitating constructive change, stimulating action from others, addressing problematic issues and in-general moving society forward for a long time.
For the last several years, students from major universities around the globe have been profiling the contribution of women leaders who’ve been making an impact in the world. These women contributors include business-women, world-leaders, athletes, artists & performers, entrepreneurial pioneers, authors and government leaders as well as many others. Through their discoveries, they have found, the abilities they’ve demonstrated didn’t just happen by chance or just when they were in a leadership role. Rather these qualities were naturally springing forth and simply-defined the way they approached everything, every day. Of course, nobody can be expected to live like this all the time, yet there are persistent scenarios that plays out in most of the ways these women live life, and most notably the merits that make them amazing leaders, are as much about who they are, as it is about what they are doing.
Leadership is not a choice, rather Leadership is a description of your character as a whole
By developing and molding how we operate in everything we do, we can make concerted strides to shape not just what we do, but what we become and who we are. As you go through the qualities I’ve outlined here, it’s my hope you distinguish that living in this manner is manageable and experience-able by every single one of us. Point-of-fact… If you are reading this now- you are already showing some of these traits!
Now, whether you are doing everything on this list some of the time, or do them all always, working to develop your abilities in these areas will surely improve your impacts in the world and max out your capabilities of leadership. Most importantly remember this: you can be a woman of impact in your workplace, at home, and in your community. If you’re asking yourself how… read on.
Most think that women have to be in the right place at the right time, but every success I know of or have studied had a work-ethic that sustained her through adversity and kept her on track, even in the face of calamity or fierce opposition. Determination often looks like a preparedness for failure; and all while just continuing to ‘plug-away’, but definitely still learning from the slip-ups along the way. At times it is a discreet flexibility that humbly keeps us moving onward, upward, like an inner motivation to never give up. Persistence is crucial, because we all get tested all-the-time and life will invariable knock you down if you let it, so it makes no difference what you’re undertaking or who you think you are. The power is in knowing that if you do fall, the most significant thing is getting back up.
BE FULL OF OPTIMISM
By fixating on the positive aspects of events or the conditions surrounding a conflict you can maintain a hopeful outlook and stay away from doubt and fear that is usually associated with the rigors of the grind. Through a perspective that is optimistic, you will naturally begin to expect the most encouraging results, and as such you will begin to realize more advantageous results. There is, however, a real connection concerning optimism and self-confidence, with optimism frequently lending to an assertive outlook both about the fruitful outcome and/or about one’s sense-of-self. By choosing to see the brighter sides of life it then helps us accept negative experiences and turn them into guidance opportunities.
DEVELOP A COMMANDING ABILITY TO SPEAK
Your voice is at the center of your leadership and everyone under you will be listening for it. This is encapsulated in your preparedness to communicate your truth and resolve to be heard, even when the meaning may not precisely align with the ‘norm’ or be particularly popular. This doesn’t mean your actual voice is loud, but rather that your opinion belongs to you and represents the culture you envision for your organization. By using our personal stories, or through sharing our thoughts, feelings, or ideas, only then can we bond with others, or stimulate change, or empower ourselves and those around us.
LIVE THROUGH WHAT DRIVES YOU
Only when you know what ‘gets you going,’ what drives your actions, what gets you up early in the morning, what moves you and when you let that fire burn brilliantly inside you. This sort of passion only comes as a result of having true purpose, real dedication to your cause. Moreover it is a feeling a true craving and a passion for the work you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if that work is raising your kids, starting a company, teaching school, or working for change in your community, ‘it’s your thing,’ and maintaining passion and enthusiasm will help to keep you persistent while remaining optimistic.
If nothing else, you must have confidence as it is the true belief in your likelihood to succeed, it’s a true belief that you will do well. At the center of this is a belief is the conviction that you will achieve whatever it is you want; and that you can be whomever you want to be. This is sometimes tough because we are exposed to so many outside influences that makes that little voice in our head to occasionally become one of self-doubt. However, by believing in ourselves, it allows us to take on challenging tests, endure times-of-stress, or by reaching out to others to find ways to connect. Every one of us can find ways to give back to our communities and to the world in wonderful, impactful ways, it’s just that sometimes we have to get out of our ‘un-comfort zone’ and allow ourselves to grow.
LEARN TO LOVE CHANGE
Fashion was forever transformed by women who craved change, in fact fashion is the truest definition of change. They used fashion as a declaration against the classic public gender norms of their time, thus liberating women and allowing us to take have additional prospects. Leadership at all levels embodies change... or as I sometimes call it, adjustment for the better. It truly is growth, it's progress, it's trudging onward to whatever’s next. Our children will grow up, we will most certainly grow up, and life fluctuates with each fleeting day.
Right now being authentic is a fashionable term, but it’s nonetheless critical to success. This is more than just ‘keeping it real,’ rather it means to have a preparedness to write your own story, to be who you want to be; and most certainly not who others presume you to be. Genuineness is the everyday practice of letting-go who we are told we are supposed to be, and embracing who we really are and want to be. It’s here, the place you actually are, where you will have the most helpful, eternal impact. This might be the most difficult one on the list to grasp, but it’s possibly the most treasured.
GIVE AND GET SUPPORT
Nobody can do it alone and never has. Influential women recognize that support from one’s family and friends is crucial to success. They know that partnerships with others, and the ability to collaborate on assignments not only helps them get better, but also helps get the job done quicker. Ladies regularly have a reluctance to ask for assistance to sidestep apparent inability or incompetence. But keep in mind that in getting through life it ‘takes a village’ and the upside is, people genuinely like helping others- it just feels good and it begets a shared connection. It demonstrates to us: we all have weaknesses and need help from time-to-time.
If you have finished this read, you are most likely an influential woman, but in the unending mission to advance and become our best us’, keeping these qualities top of mind can make all the difference. In closing, remember this, leadership is a state-of-mind, something you choose to be, as are the rest of these fundamentals. So, when you are faced with a choice, choose leadership.
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About the Author: Lalanii Wilson-Jones, MBA is a dynamic business leader based in Dallas, Texas who owns & operates multiple companies across several industries. Her range of talents and experience makes her an ideal candidate for strong economic partnerships all over the world, a great mentor and a great source of information that can change the mechanics of any sized company.
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