Lately, more and more people seem to be waking up to the fact that women’s style of leading through listening and collaboration brings enormous benefits to just about every kind of group you can imagine. That includes large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations, sports teams—you name it.

Since many women seem to naturally possess these abilities, we don’t necessarily need to learn a lot of new skills before we take on leadership. However, we may need to start trusting our own thinking and to gain the confidence to lead in our own way.


  1. BE YOURSELF. In an attempt to ‘act like a leader,’ do you ever behave in a way that doesn’t fit your values or personality? Notice your unconscious assumptions—do you think leaders should be aggressive or unemotional? Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
  2. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Become aware of the critical voice in your head that says you’re not smart enough or strong enough to take on leadership.
  3. SAY WHAT YOU THINK. In meetings or when talking to family and friends, say what you really think. Don’t pretend to agree just to keep the peace—in the end, it weakens your relationships. As long as you are respectful, you have a right to express your own opinion.
  4. STAY PRESENT IN THE FACE OF CHALLENGES. A good leader doesn’t avoid problems because it feels uncomfortable. But before tackling tough issues, take the time to become grounded. Notice any negative self-talk. Your actions are much more likely to result in a positive outcome when you are feeling calm and confident.
  5. CELEBRATE THE POSITIVE. If a group or individual is being unnecessarily negative, redirect attention to the positive. Don’t forget to express appreciation and acknowledge effort.
  6. TAKE RISKS. Begin to step outside your comfort zone. Suggest a bold idea at a meeting. Push a project forward. Ask for recognition. Take time for yourself.
  7. DON’T IGNORE PROBLEMS. No group or individual can thrive when key issues aren’t being addressed. Don’t stay silent in the face of dysfunction or pretend everything is fine when it’s not. But before pointing out what everyone else is ignoring, get support and create a plan.
  8. USE YOUR POWER FOR GOOD. The best leaders use their influence to fight for those with less power and to create space for them to take on leadership themselves.
  9. STOP APOLOGIZING. Do you say “I’m sorry” even when you haven’t done anything wrong? You may think you’re just being polite, but others may think you lack confidence. To help break the habit, ask a trusted friend or colleague to give you a small signal every time you apologize.
  10. OPEN YOUR HEART. When someone is having strong emotions or is feeling vulnerable, don’t be afraid to express compassion— even in the workplace. We always have the power to be kind.

Learn more about our work – Inclusive Leadership