As women leaders, we’ve all encountered subtle whispers and lingering doubts. The myth that we’re “too much” remains in the shadows, questioning our assertiveness, ambition, and even our very presence in the corporate world. But here’s the truth: It’s not us who are too much; the expectations and old narratives need a reality check.
Women in leadership roles often find themselves walking a tightrope. We’re more likely to receive subjective feedback that focuses on what we’re not rather than celebrating our strengths. Shrouded in vagueness, this feedback can leave us grappling with feelings of inadequacy, wondering if we are indeed cut out for the roles we’ve earned.
Research indicates that women have a 20% lower chance of getting helpful feedback for enhancing their work performance and development. Frequently, women are advised to exhibit greater “cooperativeness” and “political acumen,” whereas our male counterparts are prompted to display assertiveness and chart visionary courses. It’s a perpetuated double standard, amplifying gender biases that linger in the workplace.
But here’s the kicker: We cannot internalize these identity-based criticisms. Identity-based comments are mere echoes of a broader pattern of gender bias. The problem isn’t us; it’s the system.
Moreover, bias stretches its hand beyond gender lines. Women of color, for instance, face microaggressions that often go unnoticed. It’s a reality that compounds the challenge of leadership, pushing us to navigate a path that is both a glass ceiling and a glass cliff.
So, how do we rise above these murky waters?
1. Authenticity Over Apologies:
Refuse to shrink. Embrace your ambition, assertiveness, and vision. Authenticity in leadership isn’t about being “too much”; it’s about being unapologetically yourself.
2. Seek Constructive Feedback In Safe Spaces:
In addition to your leader, consider seeking insights from other trusted sources – mentors, sponsors, higher-level executives, or trusted colleagues. Ask targeted questions such as “What do you consider my strengths to be? and “How do my strengths align with the company’s objectives?”
3. Rise as Allies:
By standing together, the echo chamber grows stronger. Support your fellow female leaders, especially BIPOC women, in their journey to shatter ceilings and dispel myths.
4. Lead with Empathy:
Recognize the complex intersectionality of bias – gender, race, ethnicity, nationality – and lead with empathy. Use your position to drive change and inclusivity in your organization.
5. Rewrite the Narrative:
Challenge the narrative of being “too much.” Embrace it, even. Reframe it as being “just right” for the bold, pioneering leaders we are. It’s past time to redefine leadership norms.
Remember, we’re not “too much”; we’re precisely what our organizations need. Let’s rise above biases, embrace our authentic selves, and lead with strength, conviction, and unwavering resolve.
Our presence is not a disruption; it’s a revolution.
“Confident, damn, she lethal.” — Beyoncé, the wise philosopher