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⭐ Top 11 Empowering Tips for Women in Leadership to Break Barriers and Climb the Career Ladder

By December 20, 2023 January 22nd, 2024

If you ask 100 different people to define what it means to be a good leader, chances are you’ll get a wide range of definitions in return.

However, some common themes will emerge including leading with integrity, assertiveness, and empathy. While some of these characteristics come more innately to some than others, there are strategies and tips for women in leadership to implement to become more effective leaders.

The Assist

Women in prominent leadership positions have the opportunity to show just how capable, strong, and impactful a female leader can be.

“The world’s most prominent women leaders show the importance of honesty, courage, impact, and decisive action in leadership” – Oprah Winfrey Click To Tweet

Let’s learn more about the importance of women’s leadership and practical tips for female leaders to implement on their career growth journeys. 

Importance of Women in Leadership Roles

tips for women in leadershipWhen it comes to professional development for women, developing leadership skills and having a seat at the leadership table is so important. Having women in leadership positions not only benefits the business by providing needed perspective, but it also provides female employees with role models, showing them that it is indeed possible to achieve a leadership role.

While many workplaces are prioritizing their DEI efforts and making positive strides toward gender equality, we still see an imbalance when it comes to women in leadership. In the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2023,” they found that while women account for 41.9% of the workforce, the promotion of women in senior leadership roles is 10% lower at 32.2%. When looking specifically at C-suite leadership positions, that percentage drops even more with women accounting for only 25% of business leaders compared to their male counterparts.

In addition to lack of representation, women in leadership face a myriad of other challenges including gender differences & biases, imposter syndrome, navigating organizational culture, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Fortunately, there are strategies to combat these challenges. Whether you’re just starting your journey as a leader or you’re an experienced leadership veteran, let’s explore some pragmatic tips for female leaders looking to expand their toolkit.


11 Tips for Women in Leadership

From first-time people managers to CEOs, women in leadership must continue to develop and sharpen their leadership skills to effectively lead their teams. We’ve compiled a list of essential tips for women in leadership to put into practice each workday.

1. Project Confidence 😎

As a leader, it’s important that you not only project confidence but feel that confidence as well! While at times this is easier said than done, projecting confidence is a critical component of effective leadership. Confidence is something that is built over time and has many contributing factors including one’s education, work & life experiences, and personality.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building self-confidence at work, there are some everyday practices you can implement to help steadily boost your confidence levels. For example, try starting each day by reciting a positive affirmation that reminds you of just how capable and intelligent you are.

🔥 Pro-Tip from The Assist: Here’s one of our favorite self-affirmations from The Assist! “My ability to conquer any challenge is limitless. My potential for success is infinite.”


2. Find Mentors & Sponsors 🤝

Mentor employees and set up processes for additional training and developmentWhether a colleague, friend, or family member, having a mentor or sponsor to support your journey as a leader can have an immensely positive impact on that journey. What better way to get career advice for women than from fellow female leaders who have experienced similar challenges throughout their careers?

Mentors can help you work through those specific challenges & steer you in the right direction. Many companies have begun offering formal mentorship initiatives, particularly for women in leadership, in which mentees are matched with mentors at the company based on career interests and expertise. Take advantage of these invaluable programs if offered through your company. If not, there are many other ways to find a mentor including networking, tapping into your current or previous boss, or exploring your circle of friends and family.


3. Set Boundaries ❌

Setting boundaries is one of the most critical, yet challenging, aspects of being a leader. As women, we can sometimes overextend ourselves and say yes to far too many things to please those around us. However, if you read any professional development book or professional development newsletter, you’ll see a common theme emerge on the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace. Especially in the remote and hybrid world we live in today, it can be far too easy to fall prey to an “always-on” mindset and neglect your personal wellness.

In many instances, our homes have become our offices so it can be hard to unplug. As a leader, you must set healthy boundaries for your personal life and stick to those boundaries as an example to your team. Maybe that boundary is not checking your emails during the evening hours or not working during your paid vacation time. If you set and follow these boundaries, you’ll then teach and encourage others on your team to do the same.

🔥 Pro-Tip from The Assist: “When you violate your boundary, you communicate that your boundary isn’t, in fact, your boundary. This confusion leads to resentment for you and others. Others don’t know where the line is, and you feel like you’re constantly being pushed around.”


4. Communicate Assertively 🗣️

If you’re looking to improve your leadership skills, communicating assertively is a great place to start. Women can be viewed as more timid or soft-spoken compared to men, particularly in the workplace, so it’s important to combat this bias through assertively communicating your ideas.

There are quite a few factors that come into play when communicating with assertiveness. These factors include the volume of your voice, speaking clearly with confidence, maintaining eye contact, and your body language. For example, if you’re slouching, looking down, or mumbling, people will be less likely to listen to or believe what you’re saying. Communicating assertively also encourages your team to have confidence in you and respect you as a leader. 


5. Promote Other Women 👑

Promoting other women is something one should actively do throughout their entire professional career, but becomes particularly important for women in leadership positions to prioritize. Rather than tearing each other down, women in the workplace should build each other up by supporting one another and recognizing each other’s accomplishments.

Women in leadership have the opportunity to support women by shining a light on their star contributors and opening the door for the next generation of female leaders. A great way for leaders to promote other women is to publicly recognize and celebrate wins in weekly meetings or company town halls.

🔥 Pro-Tip from The Assist: “Show some love to all the female colleagues in your life by sending them a little appreciation gift or simply expressing your gratitude for their hard work.”


6. Leverage Innate Strengths 💪

The Assist

When creating your professional career development goals as a leader, it’s wise to set yourself up for success by leveraging your innate strengths. Every individual has unique and innate areas in which they naturally excel. Whether you’re great at conflict resolution, creative thinking, project management, or communication, lean into where your strengths lie. By leveraging those strengths, you’re more likely to perform better as a leader and encourage others to follow suit by embracing their inherent strengths as well. This is not to say that you shouldn’t work on developing skills that don’t come as naturally to you. As a leader, you should always seek to continually learn and grow, but it’s important to simultaneously nurture your strengths as well.


7. Take Calculated Risks 🤔

The phrase ‘no risk, no reward’ is popular for a reason. Without taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone, you may be limiting your opportunities for success and growth. The key to risk-taking in the workplace is to take thoughtful and calculated risks.

Before taking a risk, take a step back think through the potential outcomes, and weigh the pros versus cons. If you determine the risk is worth taking, then go for it! Give yourself permission to take on a challenge and try something new without fear of failure. And even if you do fail, take those learnings with you into your next endeavor.

🔥 Pro-Tip from The Assist: “Make a to-fail list, think about the risks and chances you want to take this week instead of just the things you want to get done. The goal isn’t to fail. It’s to permit yourself to try new and risky things.”


8. Demand Fair Representation 👏

While many companies are now prioritizing their DEI, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, efforts in a big way, there is still a gap in representation for women in leadership, particularly women of color in leadership.

According to Lean In & McKinsey’s 2023 Women in the Workplace Report, women represent roughly 1 in 4 C-suite leaders, and women of color just 1 in 16. Women need to see themselves represented fairly when it comes to leadership positions. If this is something you’re not seeing at your workplace or something that isn’t actively being addressed, you have every right to demand fair representation. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns with your manager or with human resources.


9. Confront Bias & Discrimination 🛑

As a woman in leadership, it’s so important to confront bias and discrimination when you encounter it. While it can be difficult or uncomfortable confronting discrimination, it can be done in a few ways. If you feel safe and empowered to intervene during a moment of bias or discrimination, don’t be afraid to speak up.

However, depending on the situation or the individuals involved, you may not feel comfortable directly addressing the discrimination at that moment. If that’s the case, you can always report the incident via human resources or your manager. By confronting bias and discrimination, you’re creating a safer work environment for yourself and the members of your team. 

🔥 Pro-Tip from The Assist: “Having hard conversations requires emotional regulation, courage, and practice. It means allowing ourselves to be honest even if it’s uncomfortable.”


10. Track Accomplishments ⭐

Rather than being self-critical and dwelling on your shortcomings, try focusing on the positive by tracking your accomplishments instead! Whether it’s a small, everyday win or achieving a long-term goal, take a moment to jot down your accomplishments so you have them handy for performance reviews or simply to look at when you’re feeling discouraged.

To give yourself the best chance at achievement, make sure you know how to write smart goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By setting smart goals at the beginning of the year, which is just around the corner, you’re setting yourself and your team up for success!


11. Find Community 👭

the assist become a better professional

A wonderful part about being a woman in leadership is the support network and community that comes with it. To find that community, consider attending conferences for women or subscribing to email newsletters for women, such as The Assist. These are fantastic ways to tap into the power of a supportive community.

In addition to providing networking opportunities, virtual or IRL communities are great resources for advice, motivation, and learning. Surrounding yourself with smart, capable, and like-minded professionals empowers you to become the best leader you can be and can have an immensely positive impact on your overall well-being.


People Also Ask These Questions About Tips for Women in Leadership

Q: What leadership skills come more naturally to women and how can I develop them?

  • A: Leadership skills that come more naturally to women include leading with empathy and in a democratic manner. They also tend to have strong communication and interpersonal skills. You can further develop these skills by subscribing to business newsletters or reading leadership books for women.

Q: I’m interested in improving work-life balance in leadership roles. What boundaries should I set?

  • A: If you’re interested in improving work-life balance in leadership roles, you should set boundaries such as unplugging during family time and not checking emails during your time off. By setting healthy boundaries and following those boundaries, you’re encouraging your team members to mirror your behavior and do the same.

Q: What advice do you have for handling mistakes or failures in a leadership position?

  • A: When it comes to handling mistakes or failures in a leadership position, you should learn from that failure and quickly move onwards and upwards. It’s key not to dwell on your mistakes as a leader or allow them to overshadow your successes. It’s also key to grow from your mistakes and commit to doing better next time.

Q: What leadership characteristics do women need to cultivate the most right now?

  • A: Some leadership characteristics that women need to cultivate most right now include communicating assertively, leading with confidence, and empowering women around them to embrace their innate strengths.

Q: How can women support each other on the path to leadership rather than seeing each other as competition? What specifically can I do?

  • A: Rather than seeing each other as competition, women can support each other on the path to leadership by recognizing each other’s accomplishments and rewarding talented contributors on their team. Specifically, you could shout out an individual’s accomplishment during a company town hall or post about their success on your LinkedIn or company socials. For more inspiration on how best to lift the women around you, consider exploring podcasts for women.

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