WE DO better in exam results, more of us enrol in higher education – but when it comes to starting our own firms or being the boss, women are still not reaching their full potential.
Statistics show women make up just 18% of FTSE 250 executive committee members, and while the number of female entrepreneurs has doubled in recent years, we still only account for just a third of start-ups.
Recent research from The Peterson Institute for International Economics found businesses where at least 30% of leaders are women were 15% profitable.
So why aren’t more women stepping up to be the Female Boss?
I’ve run all-female firms for over 20 years, including setting up the UK’s first and most commercially successful parenting network Netmums and running the UK’s only all-female influencer marketing agency ChannelMumTalent.com. My experience shows women can be stunningly successful bosses – but their management style may be radically different to traditional views of what a leader looks like.
Here are my top ten tips for be a great woman boss.
1. Collaborate, don’t berate: US First Lady and skilled politician Eleanor Roosevelt said: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Women instinctively know staff aren’t there to be ‘bossed’, they are they to build the business with you.
2. Empower others – and hire people better than you: While many male bosses still feel the need to be ‘Alpha’, women leaders tend are more comfortable hiring others who know more than they do to plug skills gaps. Hiring someone with the potential to outshine you shows you are comfortable in your own abilities.
3. Don’t ‘man up’
Never channel male behaviours to prove you can boss it. Be yourself, find your own style. Think about bosses you’ve had in the past – bad and good – and take those learnings to create the path which works for you.
4. Reach a consensus
Women work collaboratively not hieratically. Reaching a decision may take longer as it needs discussion and agreement – but it means everyone has buy-in and will pull in the same direction.
5. Flatten your structure
Let everyone in your organisation have a voice. Actively ask for input and suggestions from even the most junior of staff. You’ll uncover angles you never thought of and your next rising stars.
6. Trust your staff
Nothing crushes an employee’s soul more than micromanagement – and that goes for women and men. Trust your staff to do their job and praise so they grow.
7. Call out negativity
Been branded ‘bossy’ as a woman boss, simply for being assertive? Call out negative language and insinuations which wouldn’t be applied equally to a man.
8. Be a leader not a ‘boss’: Inspire and empower and coach, don’t control. Don’t tell your staff what to do, make them realise they can decide the best way for themselves.
9. Use your emotional intelligence: We all have a life outside of work. Maybe a staff member split with a partner or are exhausted as they were up all night with a sick child. Women bosses are far better at recognising staff are not machines and supporting employees through tough times.
10. Remember – women are likely to be most of your customers|
Adland king David Ogilvy nailed in back in 1955 when he said “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife”. Update it for the 2020s and you’ll realise women make 85% of all buying decisions. Even in firms where the sales funnel isn’t obviously female, women will have influence. A company without women bosses loses this insight and intelligence.
BY SIOBHAN FREEGARD OBE, founder of ChannelMumTalent.com