As Linda Ellis Eastman says “women are incredible leaders”. They are gifted listeners, supporters, collaborators and creators. Thirty-three women wrote a strategy based on their own experiences, backgrounds, careers and personal development.
This book review is not an attempt to give you a comprehensive summary – it aims to lift out some of the strategies that resonated with me. As such, it gives you the opportunity to get to know me better while emphasizing some pretty important leadership traits.
Before getting into the proper review, allow me to share that all of us – men and women, entrepreneurs and corporate people, parents or child-less, married or single, immigrants and nationals – have a few things in common:
- Strategies, and
- Sabotaging tactics
After all, we are all human and live a life filled with the struggle of making passionate yet rational decisions.
Everyone is a leader
What really caught my attention is Janet Christensen’s (author of chapter 2: Being a real leader) statement “everyone is a leader“. We all influence someone, whether consciously or happenstance. So choose the type of leader you want to be and create the relationships you desire to have!
Nicole Le Maire (chapter 29: Being!) speaks about the qualities of a leader – vision, motivation and conviction – and challenges you to expand your horizon as a collaborative and caring leader. I appreciate her final thought, “do not ask for permission to be successful”. How many of us have inadvertently done so in the past?
In chapter five, Peggi J. Peaslee touches on building solid relationships on grounded principles and a willingness to seek support and give assistance to others. Ten tips cover integrity, collaboration, quality, celebrations, and trust. One that stands out to me is giving recognition to others.
The simple declaration, “everyone is a leader” has such a huge impact. You control who you want to be, and I control who I want to be. So let’s learn about ourselves, find what drives us, and build strategies to get there.
Learning about ourselves
Jeralyn B. Major is an advocate for people progressing in life and her chapter (Leading from a healthy place) supports this cause. In a nutshell she suggests leaders to be aware of themselves. Reflect on your actions, care for yourself, renew and love yourself. Take the time to recharge and have a fresh, refocused start.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
To have a better understanding of this, Sara LaForest offers the four domains in the human experience that shape us: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual (random order). Chapter 21 (SheEnergy) provides many techniques. A few mentioned are:
Manage your biases (lets be honest; we all have them)
- Use intention
- Overcome fear and anger
- Be a lifelong learner
- And be gracious, generous and humble
What drives us?
This ties into what Eva Angel Diamond in the first chapter calls your “Inner Power”, the inspiration within you, and your “Outer Power”, the feeling of judgement that stimulates guilt. Constance Zacharias labels this as “leading from within“; you cannot give what you do not have.
A while ago someone said to me, “surround yourself with people that are the type of person and leader you want to be”. That applies to any one who wants to move forward, being surrounded by people you see as your example, draws out your own vision, goals and yes – even dreams. Nevertheless, it can only be your responsibility to find and understand (these are not synonyms) what keeps you ticking.
In chapter nine (Your greater self), Zacharias points out you need to take full responsibility for your actions and inactions. So much easier said than done! Managing your thoughts, choices, and self-talk makes a big difference and I am learning every day. It makes Crystal Meadows’ saying “every lesson you learn in your life is worth celebrating, if you will let it teach you” so true.
To put all of this in a bit of structure, Maureen Pearson (chapter 8) highlights our human basic needs to find fulfillment. The fundamentals are certainty, uncertainty (challenges), significance and love/connection. The strongest motivators and essential to fulfillment are growth and contribution.
Women juggle a lot. We’re daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, managers, trainers, cooks, cleaners and what not. Judy Singleton does not want us getting lost in “the forest of obstacles”. Again, this is something I picked up not so long ago at a women’s leadership luncheon where one of the panellists shared “get rid of the notion you can do everything. Just make sure that you’re present at the time and place when you need to.”
This leads to prioritizing your (and the people in your environment) tasks, desires and needs. Here’s one strategy that proves challenging for many women: take a risk and challenge the status quo. As Kimberly Krueger says, “try and fail – try & succeed – try & fail, again”. All this is to prevent and overcome paralysis and become a resilient leader.
And here is one of my favourites: be a life-long learner. Ashanda Dunigan writes it beautifully in her chapter (From obstacles to opportunity), “behind every challenge comes a new level of strength.”
The Female Leader is a book giving you so many strategies you may find yourself overwhelmed. That is why I suggest readers find what style of writing and type of tool suit them best. The tools that stood out for me are journaling and free flow writing. Though in one year’s time, another may be highlighted.
Just one thought that keeps popping back in my mind: in spite being written by and for women, in a language that suits women most probably better, the gist of it relates to any leader.
Image credit of book cover: The Female Leader