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5 Ways Women Can Establish a Leadership Presence in the Workplace

Have you ever looked around a boardroom or read a Fortune 500 magazine and noticed how male-dominated these spaces are? That's not a coincidence. Women only started getting the opportunity to progress in business roles about 60 years ago, compared to the hundreds of years men have spent in leadership.

And because of this, being a woman in leadership offers unique challenges. women are less likely to get promoted, make less money for the same work as men, and hold fewer positions of power overall. As of 2022, just over 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs (41 out of the 500) were women. And while that percentage is still alarmingly low, it significantly improved over the zero female Fortune 500 CEOs in 1995.

Despite those statistics, women are facing these challenges head-on and advancing in their roles. Women contribute significantly to the workforce, making up 42% of all business owners and 74.09 million employees in the United States. For women hoping to boost those leadership stats, reach executive positions, and gain increased respect in the workplace, here are five ways to embark on a successful leadership track. 

1. Come Prepared and Actively Listen

One of the most important things a woman can do to establish herself as a leader in the workplace is to come prepared and actively listen to others’ ideas. Being prepared shows you’re proactive and ready to engage, and active listening ensures that other people’s ideas are also being heard and explored. In addition, it’s the perfect way to encourage collaboration and foster a team-based culture.  

2. Use Confident Body Language

Body language plays a significant role in how people perceive leaders. We’re more likely to view people as natural leaders when they stand tall, maintain eye contact, and speak confidently. So pay attention to your body language in workplace interactions and daily life. Having confident body language will start to feel second nature.

3. Establish Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential for any leader but can be especially important for women. Why? Women may be more likely to experience pushback when setting boundaries, so it’s critical to be clear and consistent up-front. Establishing effective boundaries ensures everyone is on the same page about expectations and creates a helpful context for other team members.

4. Be Clear and Concise

Having a clear, concise communication style is another trait that many female leaders share. When speaking with others in the workplace, try to be direct and to the point. This approach eliminates opportunities for miscommunication, a quality often associated with unsuccessful managers.

5. Value and Recognize Your Employees

Lastly, women need to value and recognize their employees. The specifics here will vary depending on your team members and culture, but all leaders should listen to employees’ ideas and concerns and recognize their accomplishments. Employees who feel acknowledged and supported are more likely to trust their manager’s guidance and generally give their best effort during work hours.

Establishing a leadership presence in the workplace can be challenging for women. However, these five tips make it a little easier to adopt a position of authority at work—and to boost women’s leadership statistics moving forward.

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