The Case For Bold Women Leaders
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Tucker Miller | President and Founder of Day 6 Leadership, LLC
Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to be bold; when women are described as bold or assertive in the workplace it can be a bit of a slippery slope. Researchers have identified that when men comment on women’s communication styles in performance reviews, women are more likely than men to receive feedback characterizing their communication style as aggressive, even bossy. Conversely, the same or similar behavior in men is more likely to be praised and described as assertive.
Flipping the narrative
“You were bold and assertive,” a colleague said to me. Truth be told, the comment was a correction, not a compliment. While I could have seen this as cause for an apology,
I chose to see boldness as a cause for celebration.
This isn’t a matter of semantics; it’s about equity.
The words we use to describe others may open doors to opportunities, or slam them shut.
Consider this: how would you describe a leader for whom you have respect and admiration? Positive leaders are frequently described as visionary, articulate, innovative, inspiring, bold, magnetic. Are they bold or assertive? Very likely. However, someone described as bossy, abrasive, or overbearing doesn’t sound much like leadership material. Where men might be negatively rated for being arrogant or irresponsible, women were described as inept, selfish, frivolous, passive, scattered, opportunistic, excitable, temperamental, and indecisive. Ouch.
If you want to make a difference, be bold.
Leaders inspire and galvanize teams to work toward a common vision. As Goethe reminds, boldness is the stuff of genius and power.
“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Humanity is Best Served with Boldness.
To be effective, leaders must communicate a point of view – simply, directly, and boldly. That does not mean that boldness thrives without heart. The lives of Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrate that humanity is best served with boldness.
We Can Be Bold Together And For Each Other.
The path to more boldness begins with creating space for others around you to be bold, too. Be vulnerable about your own mistakes, tell the truth, be accountable – and model to others that it’s safe to do the same. Seek honesty, listen intently, and model kindness in both words and actions. Your opportunities begin with the opportunities you help others to achieve.
Day 6 Leadership, LLC is a consulting and coaching company specializing in helping to prepare women leaders for expanded responsibility, influence, and impact.