As a woman, you’ve no doubt worked hard to find yourself at the top of a corporation, but the battle doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve gotten to the top, success lies in showing everyone at work that you can take care of yourself, despite the gender gap.
Just 14 percent of America’s top executives are women, which is a tricky statistic to overcome. However, things are moving towards the favor of women all the time, and you can speed up the process by showing the workplace who’s in charge. Here are some suggestions.
1. Change A Few Key Behaviors
This isn’t to say you should conform to be a man; however, there are few behaviors women tend to have that can challenge your authority for both men and women alike. For example, studies show that women tend to apologize much more frequently than men do, even when the apology is unnecessary. Saying sorry so frequently as a leader can quickly undermine your authority and annoy those you work with.
In addition, women tend to become more chummy with the women around them, sharing confidences, gossiping, or playing favorites. A true leader will strive to treat men and women the same, even if they’re not shown the same respect. It shows a sign of maturity that will help to give women CEOs everywhere a better name.
2. Look Like You’re in Charge
To be taken seriously at work, you’ll need to look the part. This includes the way you dress, style your hair, and hold yourself. For starters, avoid ill-fitting attire and poorly styled hair. Now that you’re a CEO, you can no doubt afford a tailor and a nice hair cut. You should also avoid the “sexy” look and opt for more conservative attire. That doesn’t mean you can’t dress in bright colors or adhere to the latest fashions, but the cleavage and tight-fitting clothing should be kept to a minimum.
Another important aspect of looking the part is holding yourself like you’re in charge. Stand up straight when you’re walking and talking, and sit up straight in meetings. Slouching in any form makes you look smaller and less intimidating. Great posture and a good attitude will allow your confidence to shine through.
3. Be Knowledgeable
Obviously you know your stuff if you’ve made your way to the executive level, but you must continue gaining knowledge to keep your position. Always come to meetings far more prepared than you think you need to be, and stay up to date on the changes and advancements in your industry.
It’s also be wise to brush up on pop culture and other topics that don’t directly pertain to your industry. This helps you in two ways. First, it makes you more personable and helps you connect with a wider range of people, and two what’s happening in other industries will often affect your business. You might find some clever law firm marketing opportunities to boost your firm’s profits.
4. Keep Male Bashing to a Minimum
Women attorneys are famous for relentlessly teasing men for things like not knowing how to cook or failing to clean up after themselves. It might seem like a good time when you’re with friends, but when you’re the CEO of a company, you have to live by the golden rule. You don’t want men talking about things that you can’t do, so you shouldn’t talk openly about what they can’t do, no matter how trivial.
The world is changing and evolving constantly, and many of the stereotypes that used to be true are far from it. Fewer people think those comments funny today, and if you’re not careful, you might end up offending someone and having your authority challenged.
This isn’t to say that you should avoid saying all negative things about a certain man in the workplace. If there’s an honest problem that needs to be addressed, you should handle it professionally. But for the sake of your leadership, do your best to avoid glib comments.
5. Practice Confidence
Confidence, unfortunately, is not a trait that you can fake, at least not for long. It must be there in full force to help you stand tall, defend your position, and be a leader people can follow. Being confident in yourself and your abilities involves having a positive outlook on life, recognizing your strengths, continually working on your weaknesses, eating right and exercising regularly, and showing off your innate passion for your job. Oftentimes, confidence is all that’s necessary to be a great leader in a man’s world.