Even today, female leaders face many
challenges on the way to the top. Of course, society has changed a great deal
over the past few decades and many new and exciting opportunities have opened
for women in business and community positions.
That kind of lulls us into
thinking many of the obstacles have been overcome or the glass ceiling has been
In truth, women have unique considerations that can either pose as
stumbling blocks or propel them to greatness. Let's take a look at some of the
challenges of women in leadership.
I bet the first thing that pops in
your mind is gender discrimination.
When it comes to the workplace, women are
protected by discrimination and harassment laws, so while both of these
inequities occur, women have recourse. The challenge then is to rise above the
mental and emotional aspects of being looked down upon or dismissed simply
because of gender. In some ways this is no different than the challenges faced
by anyone in a minority status because of race, sexual orientation, or even
The great female leaders of today have taken on this discrimination
and used it to only become stronger and more determined to succeed.
challenges of women in leadership arise from the restrictions put on women while
growing up in male dominated families and a society that rewards aggressive men
and demur women.
Women may lack confidence from an early age and this lack of
confidence gets reinforced in the home and school system where girls aren't
expected to excel in math and science but are steered towards more traditional
However, some of the greatest female leaders today are born
nurturers and when this quality is combined with self confidence, women can be
unstoppable. Girls and women may be prevented from achieving their full
potential if they are not allowed to grow up in an environment where their
status is honored and great things are expected of them.
society creates challenges for women in leadership today that weren't
necessarily present in decades past.
We are all living such fast paced,
distracted lives that it can be difficult for women to devote enough time to
themselves and their projects.
Women with families have responsibilities with
children and running the home. Kids are involved in more activities than ever
that require a lot of time and energy to coordinate. At the end of the day, you sometimes feel depleted by all the demands on
your time and emotions. It's
hard to image having enough energy and focus left over to become a great leader
So many people today are just plain tired, especially women, and
this can keep them from achieving greatness.
So, how can these challenges
of women in leadership be overcome or managed?
A good place to start is with the
self. Develop your personal power and mental outlook first. Some women are just
natural born leaders, but others could become great leaders with the right tools.
It doesn't hurt to ask for help. That is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Enlist the help of your spouse, parents, or babysitter with caring for your
children and your home so you are not overwhelmed with too many important
responsibilities at once.
Strive for peak health by getting plenty of
rest, lots of exercise, and by eating a healthy diet. This will give you energy
and stamina for working hard and having a sharp mind. Discipline your mind by
staying focused on your goal and not being knocked off course when you are
berated or slighted at work because of your gender.
In a more practical
approach, remember that some of the challenges of women in leadership can be
overcome by utilizing laws if you need them. Don't allow a co-worker to abuse
you or block your promotions simply because you are female. Stand up for your
However, keep in mind, being aggressive will help you get to the
top but it will not necessarily give you the charisma you need to naturally
attract supporters. If you don't have natural charm, you can cultivate it by
taking classes that teach you social graces and business etiquette. You can take
personal development classes on becoming more assertive or classes on how to
dress for success.
One thing is for sure, great female leaders never have
their status simply handed to them.
A lucky few grow into the position of a
leader thanks to their own innate personalities and abilities. Most females
though, have to work hard to overcome the challenges of women in leadership. The
good news is that the struggle makes them stronger.
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