As a Woman, Don’t You Yearn To Be Seen As A Great Leader?

A few years ago, I was working with a leader of an organization who was extremely frustrated with her team.  Team morale was low and jobs weren’t being done effectively. Gossip and judging amongst team members were influencing the team’s performance and organizational culture.  My client’s team wasn’t doing what she thought she was asking them to do. And it was becoming a huge problem for their organization.

When I met with the team members, they too were frustrated.  

They felt they were working hard to meet almost impossible expectations.  Breaks weren’t scheduled in a way that made sense for them. Some felt like they had no break for lunch or using the restroom.  No one was working with one another, if anything they were all working against each other. They all felt their team leader wasn’t listening to them and intentionally wanted them to fail.  Why would they want to work hard for someone who wanted them to fail?

One thing was clear, no one’s needs were being met and it was all at the expense of their clients.

It sounded like listening was at the heart of the problem, on both sides.  When I sat down with my client to understand the needs of her team she got confused.  As the leader of the organization, she believed that it was her role to tell her team what to do, not ask what they needed.  She was the leader, she was supposed to know what was best for them. “How do you know what’s best for your team if you don’t listen to and understand what they need?” I asked her.  Silent, it became clear she had never considered it.

As we dug deeper to understand what “listening” meant to her, she had a revelation.  

She felt she had never been listened to – as a child, a team member, or a leader.  Because she didn’t know what being listened to felt like, she didn’t know how to listen to others.  She admitted she had been raised with the beliefs from her father that leaders make the decisions for their teams.  If you listen to others or ask questions, you must not know what is best for your team. Therefore, you are not a strong leader.  Fearful of not being respected as a strong leader, my client continued to choose not to listen to her team, or their needs. Rather telling them what she thought was best for them based on her own perspective.  Unfortunately for her, her relationships and leadership suffered as a result.

Listening is a skill that we all think that we do well.  Spoiler alert! Most don’t.

Being a strong listener is fundamental to strong leadership, yet it can be a hard skill to master.  Unless your parents or teachers were really intentional about teaching you how to be present and choose how to actively listen without judgment, then you too haven’t been given all the skills needed to succeed.   Like my client, most leaders learn from their parents, teachers, mentors or leaders before them. However, that doesn’t mean their leadership style is effective.

In order to be a successful leader, it is imperative that you have strong relationship health.

That was something that my client struggled with.  She was so focused on being seen as a strong leader that she had zero awareness of how she was showing up and building her relationships with her team.  She had zero relationship health and her leadership – and team- suffered for it.

“Leaders become great not because of their power but, because of their ability to empower others” – John Maxwell.

Great leaders learn. Relationship health is built on respect by seeing, hearing and understanding others.  This doesn’t mean you have to like and agree with everything you hear, it just means you understand where others are coming from. This is how you engage and empower.  It’s how you innovate and collaborate.

Take a moment now and honestly reflect…

As a leader, how strong is your relationship health?  

What are you doing daily to ensure you continuously learn?

It’s impossible to be a great leader unless you are willing to learn.


Kirsten Siggins

Kirsten Siggins

Co-Founder of The Institute of Curiosity, Co-Author of The Power of Curiosity, Communication Ambassador for Wealthy Woman Warrior™

We specialize in high-quality conversations that build high-quality relationships. That means we help people STOP reacting (to people, emotions, events) and learn to start RESPONDING to engage and inspire others, especially in emotional or high stakes situations.


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