Effective communication as a female leader in the workplace is an essential skill. Female leaders have to be prepared to overcome any inherent gender biases that may exist. Unfortunately, it is still common in many organizations to not prioritize nurturing women leaders or to fail to amplify women’s special perspectives in ways that disrupt or challenge the way business is done within those companies.
Sadly, in fact, a study found that “Despite abundant evidence that gender equality in leadership is good for business, an overwhelming majority of organizations say advancing women into leadership roles is not a formal business priority.”
In order for more women in business to be heard more frequently and for their voices to be heeded, I’ve assembled a few communication techniques for female leaders.
It’s important to note that communication is not only verbal, but also vocal (tone of voice, volume, and pace) and visual (nonverbal cues, including gestures, eye contact, facial expressions). Ensuring all these characteristics are in sync and relevant to the message is a key component to communicating effectively.
However, there are fundamental differences in the ways women and men think and, therefore, communicate. Regrettably, the way women think and communicate has historically been undervalued.
Leadership requires strong communication skills and the ability to influence others. Some women have experienced more difficulties accomplishing these objectives than others, though. Because of our relatively smaller physical size compared to most men, women are often literally overlooked and what they have to say is either outright ignored, “bropropriated,” or drowned out by louder male voices. Many women have a quieter and higher voice than their male counterparts – resulting in men’s voices being considered as “smarter and more reliable” – which can make some of the previous actions easier to carry out by unscrupulous men.
Make an Impact
Due to these drawbacks, as a female leader in the workplace, it is crucial to think about your impact in a room: how you enter it, making people aware that you are present, and getting your point across.
Female leaders also need to sound more decisive when they’re communicating and less like they are asking questions or making suggestions.
Something to be aware of might include observing whether you are questioning if work can be done (as though requesting a favor) versus informing a team member that a task must be completed by a certain date. Inquiring if they need more information, time, or resources to complete the assignment “softens” the delegation if you feel you need to transition to a more decisive form of communication rather than completely changing your communication style overnight.
Focus on being respected over being liked. Your job as a leader is to … well, lead. Whether you have recently transitioned to being a leader or you have many years of experience, your contributions and directives are worthy of respect. Be assertive and confident in all your communication, no matter if it’s as a presenter, in one-on-one meetings, via email, or virtual interactions.
Grow as a Leader
Simply speaking up and communicating more effectively creates an environment where more women gain the self-confidence to communicate their ideas, leading to higher retention rates and increased innovation. If you would like to grow as a leader and improve the way you communicate in the workplace as a female leader, I would love to help you.