I was reminded of the famous quote by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Meta, and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
Read on to find out why I agree with her narrative of why female leaders do not benefit from being defined differently than their male colleagues.
When talking about women in leadership, however noble and progressive our intentions are, we automatically add a stereotypical view of female traits to their role. Most studies focus on the point that women value a more inclusive, team-building leadership style for problem-solving and decision-making. While that sounds good, I also agree with what Forbes points out as the “Top Skills Of An Effective Leader” and none of them are gender-specific. It is about having the ability to empower people, treat them with kindness and respect. These are the universal key principles that should become the norm in a modern and future-oriented business environment. At the end of the day, every good leader has to find their own balanced leadership style, based on key strengths and experiences.
I still completely agree with the fact that women are underrepresented in most leadership positions and that society underestimates women's leadership abilities. I am also immensely grateful to benefit from the women who had to fight for their rights. However, it is not beneficial to highlight the fact that a leadership position is filled by a female candidate. It implies that it is such a strange and unique circumstance that we are forced to mention it just to wrap our heads around it. By doing this we subconsciously undermine the hard work that has gone into reaching this position and imply that she is just the female alternative of the best hire. If women leaders ever want to be treated as equals, we need to start talking about it in a gender-neutral way.
At Amazee Labs, equality and inclusiveness belong to our core values and we incorporate those values in everything we do. To my team, the only thing that matters is that I enable them to do their best possible job every day by embracing some key points.
Empowered by trust
Everyone at Amazee Labs takes pride in living a transparent and honest work culture. So naturally, trusting my team is the beginning and the end of everything, which in turn takes away the need for micro-managing. I act as a mentor and a resource but step out of the way so that they can get the work done.
A mindful leader needs to be present and listen closely to what happens around them. I avoid checking emails and messages during meetings and make a point of focusing my attention on the topics at hand so that my team members know they have my undivided attention at that moment.
It might sound really cheesy but I really do care. About my team, about our clients and about the solutions we produce. Most important to me is that the team goes home with a good feeling about their daily achievements.
Communication is key
For me personally, some of my key strengths and experiences I draw from are closely tied to my roots as a software engineer. Leading a team is always more effective if you speak the same language and understand their daily problems. Luckily there is still the heart of a programmer beating inside of me and I am drawn to discuss technical topics with the team. Personally, I hope they never get annoyed by this.
Keep my ego in check
Yes, it is true that I am the head of the company but I am for sure not the most skilled when it comes to programming or other core business activities. Thus I make sure that I surround myself with skilled team members who are able to speak up and voice their opinions – even if their viewpoint is different to mine.
Did you notice how none of the points I mentioned when describing my leadership style is gender-specific? These are principles that can be applied by every good leader and the more we focus on “Why are Women better in [insert topic of your choosing]” we contribute to a narrow mindset that impedes us from reaching the goals we set for ourselves – however empowering and well-meaning it might seem. Let’s change the narrative and work on making Sheryl Sandberg's quote today’s truth. “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”