Ice Queen Syndrome – How Faux Confidence Can Hurt Women in Leadership

Queen Bee, the Ice Queen. We’ve all met one or worse yet, worked for one. I recently came across a slew of articles analyzing the role of the these characteristics in the office ecosystem. It’s a topic I’ve discussed at great length both in my book, Leading Gracefully and at speaking engagements across the US and abroad. So, why did these articles in particular catch my eye? They weren’t about the problems associated with being pegged as the Ice Queen, they were about embracing her!

Needless to say, I was shocked. Women have been forced into these stereotypes for decades because of discriminatory work environments, and that’s not a tradition I think we should embrace. As I began reading the arguments posed by pro-Ice Queen authors, I realized that the core of the argument in favor of being the most unapproachable person in the office was about exuding confidence.

Let’s get one thing straight: Women should not have to trade likeability for confidence.

I developed the Feminine Leadership Model based on leading with the ideal balance of our masculine and feminine traits, but confidence is neither. Women can embrace feminine qualities that make them kinder, more caring, and more empathetic – all the while carrying themselves with the kind of confidence that will get them the respect they deserve. And let’s be real, being icy and bitter only exudes faux confidence, at best. I teach my female clients that showing empathy, leveraging your vulnerability, and letting your colleagues know you care are all real ways to become a more effective leader. These methods are all antithetical to being the office Ice Queen, and lead to a healthier and more successful team dynamic.

Discriminatory and male-dominated work environments may be to blame for the existence of the Ice Queen stereotype but, by and large, the victims of the aggressive and bossy female leader are other women. And in fact, one of the top complaints I hear from my clients are stories of how their female bosses actively working to sabotage their career. Typically these are stories of female bosses who micro-manage which makes it difficult to gain the skills necessary to advance or don’t advocate on their behalf, limiting their visibility which hurts their chances for promotions. This practice hurts the overall cause for those of us who are interested in closing the gender leadership gap.

I believe it is vital for women to strengthen their professional relationships with each other in order to close this gender gap. Here’s a passage I include in Leading Gracefully: “When we become less judgemental, and more forgiving of women who may be slightly different than us, it can lead us to work better together – and give women the boost that they need to face the myriad other challenges they have to face in the workplace.”

The Future of Work: The Art of Collaborative Leadership

The way we work is shifting. We see that in subtle ways and other times in not so subtle ways. Even traditional companies like Deloitte are investing in people development, realizing that it is the best resource they have to stay ahead of the curve. Those with a real competitive advantage intuitively understand innovation and creativity as essential to meeting market demands and crucial in facing our collective sustainability challenges. The future of work as we know it is shifting from an outdated directive approach toward collaborative frameworks that inspire us to engage in new and different ways with our work and with each other.

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post here.

The Male Perspective on Women’s Leadership

I recently had the pleasure of being featured on the Dose of Leadership podcast with Richard Reirson, who I can only describe as one of the men who “gets it.” He understands the need for more women in leadership because of the unique perspective they bring to the table, along with the great range of leadership skills that he thinks is much needed in the corporate world. I must admit it was refreshing to speak to someone who supports not only having more women at the top but an attitude that men can also learn a lot from women, especially about how to bring more heart into business.

Listen to our full interview here: http://www.doseofleadership.com/monique-tallon/

 

 

Got Vision? Three Tips to Effectively Communicate Your Ideas and Inspire Your Followers

We all know that vision is one of the cornerstones to effective leadership. Yet despite this well known fact, I’ve worked with many leaders who struggle to effectively communicate their vision, and I am always surprised at how often many leaders overlook this important step. After much analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of thinkers: Big Sky Thinkers and Detailed Thinkers, and depending on where you fall on that spectrum, it could determine how well you communicate and execute your vision.

In my new book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership, I offer a short quiz to my readers so they can quickly assess which category the fall into. Lucky for you, you can find that quiz in my free workbook, 15 Exercises to Feminine Leadership Mastery, that you can download from my website. Once you’ve taken the quiz, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re someone with great vision but lack in execution, or someone who gets so focused on execution, that you forget to take a step back and get people on board with your vision first. Both steps are crucial to leading well-performing, collaborative teams that produce great results.

Here are 3 tips that I offer in my book, Leading Gracefully that both men and women can practice to ensure they don’t fall into the trap many good intentioned leaders fall into.

1) Decide on Your Goal: Is your goal to motivate and inspire your team to follow your vision? Or is it to execute flawlessly on a strategic plan? You can’t have one without the other; as a leader your job is to inspire your people into action and be clear in your expectations, delegate effectively, create accountability, and deliver results. But depending on whether you are a big-picture thinker or a detailed thinker, this may not come as easily or naturally as one would think. Make sure you do both and preferably do the first before the latter. Each requires a different strategy and approach.

2) Be Assertive: If you’re a Detailed Thinker, make sure you’re taking the step back to assertively communicate your vision before forging ahead with the to-do’s. Many women in particular get stuck here because they tend to get wrapped up in the “proving my value” mentality, taking on tasks and going into execution mode to show they are capable of producing results. Those who are promoted to a higher level of leadership (usually Director level or above), also might struggle with letting go of the “doing” and embrace the “being” required of leadership, which starts with assertively and passionately communicating your vision and getting buy-in from key stakeholders before moving into action-planning.

3) Learn to Delegate: If you are a big-picture thinker, once you’ve communicated your grand vision it’s important to follow through with clearly set expectations, roles, responsibilities, direction, and delegation. Execution does not mean taking everything on yourself. Perfectionists (and many women, again for reasons stated above) have a difficult time with this. The fix: stop micro-managing and start empowering your team to take ownership of their areas of responsibility. You’ll be surprised at the results you get.

To learn more about how to effectively communicate your vision and other tips to be a great leader, check out Leading Gracefully, available on Amazon.