Gender Education Plus

What it takes to be a woman leader

Focus on building a bond with the people in your organisation.

Focus on building a bond with the people in your organisation.  

Becoming successful in any field involves a fundamental identity shift.

“Oh! So what do you want to be… the President of your country?” is often the kind of mocking statements young girls grow up listening. Even when there are examples like Indira Gandhi or Kalpana Chawla in our society, the perception about women remains that they are incapable of logical reasoning and strategic thinking which act as a huge barrier when it comes to making a choice of what they aspire to be.

It becomes even more challenging if the woman sees herself as a leader in any field. Researchers in the field have concluded: A woman who is assertive, authoritative and dominant, “like a male leader,” tends to be viewed as atypical and unattractive. If women can’t reach the top, it is because they “don’t ask,” are “too nice,” or simply “opt out.” Becoming successful in any field involves a fundamental identity shift. Successful women clearly navigate a different societal and organisational landscape compared to their male counterparts to reach where they are.


Natasha, a 17-year-old girl was brought in for video counselling at by her mother. She had then appeared for her Class XII exams and was appearing for her other entrance exams. She was very low in confidence despite being an above average performer academically and was mildly depressed. She felt she was not good for any field and would not even pass Class XII and hence was not focussed on preparing or giving her entrances. She also felt she did not look good and reported being bullied at school and even at home by her cousins as she was obese and dusky complexioned. With supportive counselling for immediate distress, cognitive behaviour therapy and career counselling, Natasha was a changed girl — from a depressed, low self-confident girl to a bright, confident and success-oriented one who has now cleared her medical entrance exams and is studying at a prestigious medical college. Now, she aims high in her life. Her objective is to achieve the highest honour of her field.

So, it’s not only Natasha, who, in her life can dream of acquiring highest honours of her career, it can be any one of you. Thus, let us know what is it that you must have in you that can make you aim high and become the President… you read it right, even the President of a country?

Know yourself: Know your strengths and weaknesses and purpose in life. Explore the unknown in you as it may uncover your strengths that you would have never known till you tried. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, says “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow.”

Make your presence felt: Leaders are expected to have a “presence” even when they are not yet into a leadership role. You may have to work on developing the following components in you: Ability to connect with others; Integrity and trust; Authenticity; Confidence; Energy; Sincerity and Positivity.

Have a purpose: Rooting yourself in purpose enables you to redirect your attention toward shared goals and to consider who you need to be and what you need to learn in order to achieve your goals.

Personal promotion: You have to be proactive in developing ties and see it as a means to a larger purpose. Be comfortable standing out as who you are and putting yourself forward, and make yourself and your work visible.

Bond with colleagues: Focus on building a bond with people in your organisation especially those junior to you by position. Praise publicly, but criticise/correct someone privately. Don’t beat around the bush.

Effective communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication go hand in hand in establishing your credibility as a good leader. Listen effectively when talking to someone with your complete focus on them.

Be assertive: Assertiveness is not being aggressive and only means communicating your perspective on a topic or communicating what needs to be done to achieve a common goal without losing your cool or respect.

Value of criticism: Constructive criticism is essential for personal growth for it helps you fill the gaps in your work but criticism that is not constructive needs to be ignored and not taken personally. Like the poem goes,

“You may shoot me with your words

You may cut me with your eyes

You may kill me with your hatefulness

But still, like Air, I rise….”

Mary Angelou

The writer is Chief Psychologist at

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:56:28 AM |

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