Women Leaders: Finally Coming Home

For the last two years I have been blessed to do a lot more work for women leaders. As the focus on gender equality and the women’s impact on business economics have been growing in the Czech Republic, more and more companies addressed me to prepare tailor-made strategic communication academies for their talented female leaders. I find deep meaning in sharing my journalistic experience and entrepreneurial know-how with women and in helping them to be seen, heard and taken seriously.

However, I cannot stop from noticing: we still have a long way to go in order to bring the best of our women gifts into today’s leadership.

When it comes to genuine leadership and strategic communications, here are a few detrimental tendencies that I observe with most of my female clients:

  • We set ALL the stakes sky high. We expect to be perfect and even more in everything that we do. That goes from family, work, friends, social life, looks, body work and so on. When we are just a little less than perfect we feel guilty. Thus we put an incredible burden on our mental, physical and emotional life. Sometimes if we feel we cannot do something perfectly, we rather don’t do it at all. That also includes communicating strategically.
  • We tie our sense of self-worth with the outcome of our work. This is a disease that is plaguing both women and men: we tend to think that we are only as good as our last appraisal. What’s worse, we give the power over ourselves to pretty much anyone who happens to be around. We have low resilience to criticism and, when faced with the risk of being bashed, we go idle, choosing lack of action as opposed to conscious action.
  • We are afraid to be seen. I have female clients who refuse to be seen or taken pictures of because they are pregnant. I have clients who would do anything rather than stepping on the stage in front of their colleagues and present the outcome of their work. I have clients who lose their night’s sleep weeks before going for a television interview. All this because when we are seen, we might be pointed at or criticized, which means we haven’t met our standards of perfection, which means no self-worth. The circle is closed.

In terms of strategic communications I recommend my female clients to start one step at a time.

Once you are clear about your vision and goals, here are a few aspects of strategic communications that you can addressed:

  1. The way you dress is a source of energy and personal power. When we are dressed in clothes that suit us well, our energy shifts and our level of self-confidence increases. Make sure you dress consciously so you can use this energy and healthy self-confidence in line with your goals.
  2. Network. I can already see a few women raising their eyebrows. Many companies have been investing a lot into offering their women courses of image management and networking opportunities. Yet the change is slow. Why? “I already have more than enough on my plate; I cannot spend my evening downtown with foreign people. More contacts also mean more people to manage and I simply don’t have the energy for it.” While I hear the argument, the key is not just networking – it is conscious networking, within and outside your company. Only by building a healthy network of contacts that you can rely upon in times of need you can ensure that you truly influence the directions of your life in the future.
  3. Manage your social media consciously. When is the last time you did a Google search for your name? Are you happy with what’s popping up when you review your profile? If you look at your search results with the eyes of a recruiter, are your results giving an accurate image of your competencies? A lady told me recently: “Yeah, I am on LinkedIn, but only with my name. I didn’t add more info – my job history and schools I studied are no one’s business.” Well, when you don’t put relevant information about yourself out there, sooner or later someone else will. When you let the Internet to create your image you empower somebody else to speak for yourself, with unexpected consequences for your leadership and life.
  4. Be visible in the media. Ask your PR department if there are any media opportunities for sharing your know-how. Traditional media still add a lot of weight to your reputation. You can always add the column or the expert article that you published to your next application for a new position or a salary increase.

Last but not least, I encourage my female clients to join women communities. This is an essential aspect in my view.

By listening to other women you are coming home: you realize you’re not the only one feeling the way that you do and dealing with the concerns that you are. You can also get valuable tips from women on how to handle your life and work. Above all, you will feel better: you are not alone on your journey.

Ever since women started discovering their place in business and the economy in the 20th century, the recipe for success was: Do it like a man and you will be successful. That strategy goes unfortunately only that far. We are biologically and emotionally wired differently and when our bodies collapse under the burdens we assume we need to learn the sources of our genuine, feminine strength. Conscious, strategic communications in line with our life vision and goals are an engine for such personal power. It may be scary at first. But it’s a road worth taking: it brings us closer to who we are and who we can be.

We are finally coming home.

This text was first published in English in the July 2015 print edition of the Prague Leaders Magazine.

Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.
Cristina Muntean
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Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.