Leadership and Asking For Help.
One of the things I find that female leaders struggle with is asking for help. While they have a wealth of experience and expertise, they often encounter unique challenges when they step into their next level of leadership.
Unfortunately, many are reluctant to seek the support they need and, in fact, see it as a weakness to ask for help of any kind.
In this blog, I’ll be exploring a few of the main challenges female leaders might be facing, as well as, how you can overcome the barriers stopping you from asking for help.
The top leadership challenges faced by female leaders.
o Doubting your abilities – aka imposter syndrome
o Finding a mentor who has the capacity, competence and willingness to support you.
o Simply being a woman – gender bias is still prevalent in many organisations.
o Achieving a work life balance – whilst avoiding stress and burnout.
o Finding a supportive network of like-minded and influential women.
o Higher expectations and scrutiny regarding levels of competence.
o Lacking confidence, especially when abilities and contributions are overlooked or undervalued.
Do these leadership challenges seem familiar to you?
Unfortunately, not only are they common for many of the female leaders I work with, these challenges feel insurmountable.
This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as a fear of negative judgement, feeling isolated or overwhelmed. , For those in more senior roles, there is the pressure to be seen as a perfect role model for others too.
One of the ways to overcome these challenges would be to ask for help or advice. However , if you’ve ever experienced a lack of adequate support, felt dismissed or encountered gender-biased discrimination when asking for help, you’re less likely to seek assistance again.
There is good news though because addressing these challenges and overcoming these obstacles is in your hands and starts with you.
The key is to take a step-by-step approach to the things that are holding you back and begin to work out the help you need.
Then you can evaluate your resources and start to ask for what you need. I know, easier said than done.
What stops female leaders asking for help?
In the past I’ve been terrible at asking, even for the simplest things. I was scared of being seen as weak or incapable in the eyes of my team or my seniors. I know I am not alone in feeling this way.
I worried I’d be judged as less competent or knowledgeable than my counterparts.
Unfortunately, stereotypes often dictate that women should be self-reliant and not seek help; making it difficult to break away from these expectations.
It’s not an easy shift to alter your viewpoint.
However it’s not impossible and there are several strategies you might find helpful when it comes to excelling in a leadership role.
Asking for help – what can you do?
1. Recognise your worth
Acknowledge your achievements and recognise that asking for help is actually a sign of strength. It is also very empowering to stand up for yourself and what you need.
2. Establish clear goals
Knowing where you want to go will make it easier to seek help and support that aligns with what you want. Get clear about exactly what will help.
3. Find and join a support system
Find mentors, sponsors, advocates and allies who are willing to offer guidance and support. Online platforms dedicated to women in leadership can provide a safe space for sharing experiences and asking for help.
Speak to me if you feel you don’t have access to a network of support.
4. Build your own supportive community if you have to
There is nothing stopping you from providing the platform where you and others can share experiences and support each other.
5. Connect with peers and colleagues
Speak to those who have experienced similar challenges and can offer insight and support. Don’t limit your search to people in your organisation. Reach out to your network and let them know what you need help with.
6. Highlight the achievements of others
Encourage successful female leaders to share their experiences to inspire and guide others.
7. Advocate for yourself
Get used to communicating your needs, your goals and your aspirations. Start to ask for feedback and be proactive in looking for opportunities that might suit you.
8. Promote diversity training
Work to raise awareness of gender biases and to foster a more inclusive workplace culture.
If you’re standing up for yourself and advocating inclusion, you’ll also be seen as a role model for others to follow.
9. Encourage different leadership styles
Lead by example, showing leadership comes in many forms. Encompass a variety of traits and contrasting approaches irrespective of gender.
When it comes to leadership, one size definitely doesn’t fit all!
10. Work with a women’s leadership coach
Obtain personalised guidance tailored to your unique challenges and goals. Seek help from an expert who is dedicated to seeing you succeed and thrive on your professional journey.
A great coach can help you to boost your confidence and self-esteem, support your leadership skills development and maintain accountability when it comes to staying on track and making continuous progress towards your goals. Most importantly, they can become the one person who you feel really comfortable asking for help from.
Remember that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but rather a way of demonstrating to yourself your commitment to your personal and professional growth.
Your success is also a way of empowering future female leaders and by asking for help you’re not just helping yourself, but also contributing to a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
Ready to seek help to develop as a ‘next level’ female leader?
Don’t let the myth of being the ‘must know everything’ leader hold you back from getting the help you need.
You can work with me and find courage to overcome any barriers or challenges.
You can gain a safe space to share your worries or concerns that might be holding you back.
Join my 1:1 Leadership Transformation Programme and step confidently into your next level of leadership.
Book in a no obligation 30 minute chat. Together, we’ll uncover your full leadership potential.
It’s time to thrive, excel and become the inspiring leader you’ve always wanted to be.