As many businesses transform to team management, skills usually thought of as feminine are more in demand. However, many women still struggle to get respect and to communicate comfortably in the workplace.
Dr. Priscilla Berry three reasons on why we do not have more women in power positions:
- they do not have the opportunity to practice,
- they are held waiting by the all-male power force
- they drop out to have children or run their own business
In her article, she explained in details three areas of leadership communication for women:
- the need to master the art of successfully confronting the problem when it appears,
- the process of leading a team,
- the special requirements of communicating with men.
Communication for Confronting the Problem
Effective women leaders confront problems at first evidence. Ineffective leaders look the other way, hoping the problems will be self-correcting. They rarely are. Failing to address issues head-on exacerbates the problem, allowing it to fester, creating gossip and low morale throughout an organization.
Some of the ways to know when and how to confront involve taking everything that involves employees seriously. When an employee is concerned, it is important and the leader should address it at the same level of importance as the employee is experiencing it.
Females often shoulder surf when someone is taking to them. When another person is speaking to you, it is critical that you focus on that person and then respond with real empathy and understanding. Never ignore a problem.
Another important rule is not to exaggerate a problem or over talk the problem. You must have categories for the problems and a time strategy that matches the problem.
After you acknowledge the problem with the organization or employee, set a time when you can respond with knowledge of the situation. This has to be a short time because of the level of expectation created by the demands of current communication systems.
Our entire world is in live time, and women must create a communication style to match the current level of expectation.
Never shoot from the hip! Many women adopt this style, but it can be damming to any leader. It is one thing to be quick to respond, but another to be impulsive. You need to call on the resources which allow you to always do your homework. Know yourself here, and if you tend to respond too quickly because you are responding to pressure or because you want to appear smart and capable, create and hold on to a more studied style of response.
Communication for Team Leadership
As professional women take on the task of leading teams, they will also have to master a pattern for team leadership. Women often vacillate in making decisions because they fear hurt feelings or they are fearful of making a wrong decision.
To be impressive, professional women must understand their role in delegation. You do not have to prove yourself or your value by doing it all by yourself. This is almost the tragic flaw for women communicators and leaders.
One of the most challenging parts of being a team leader is knowing when and how to delegate. Professional women often believe they have to prove their value by doing it all themselves; however, their real value is in creating greater productivity by engaging others in the process.
When working with teams, it is important to get everyone involved. All team members should be assigned a role with responsibilities, accountabilities, and deadlines. Delegation is not abdication. The responsibility for what is being delegated remains with the person doing the delegating.
Many leaders have trouble delegating because of trust issues, either with the specific person to whom they are delegating or in general. Women have trust issues, no doubt.
We would rather over work ourselves in the extreme than allow the project to fail. In either scenario, an initial discussion must include specificity around expectations and accountabilities to deadlines.
Additionally, the discussion must also include feedback as to the comfort level in accomplishing the delegated assignment and a request to understand the amount of oversight, coaching, and feedback required.
The best team leaders with strong communication skills develop a team consensus to make decisions. It is a skill that can be taught and improved with practice.
When working with teams, it is important for morale and motivation to involve team members. Decision making can be discussed from five approaches:
1) The leader makes the decision; no input from the team.
2) The leader makes the decision, but asks team members for information on which to base the decision.
3) The leader makes the decision, but the team members help evaluate the information and provide input. The leader then makes the final decision.
4) The leader has the entire team participate in providing information and help in the evaluation of the options. The leader then makes the final decision.
5) The leader turns the decision over to the team and accepts whatever decision is made.
Communication With Men
Communicating with power and finesse is a skill that does not come naturally to most women. I believe you know what I mean. For example, when a woman is drowned out at an important meeting by men with louder voices…Or you have an excellent idea that gets dismissed and then 10 minutes later, a man suggests the exact samething and everyone is suddenly all for it.
Or when you are speaking to someone up the chain of command and he acts like you’re invisible. This can be frustrating!
Professionals who communicate effectively and confidently go much further faster in their careers than those who do not. Today, more than ever, top-notch communication skills are an absolute if you as a woman want to get ahead professionally.
Know the big picture and succeed.
Although there have been many advances since the 1960s, there are still many to overcome. As a woman, you are not alone. Today with widespread knowledge and increased awareness, there are more organizations, resources, role models, and services to help professional women who are on-ramping in career movement and coaching which helps us to work smarter and more effectively than ever before.
Consider your personal preferences in how you acquire information. With the myriad of advice and information available on every type of media and support groups and services available in nearly every community, and even online, there is sure to be some option that would be a fit for you.
Extracted from :
Dr. Priscilla Berry, Communication Skills For Women In The World Of Corporate Business: Getting It Right And Moving Up. American Journal of Business Education