Too often management leaders take their inspiration from stuffy old men and other stereotypical sources. There certainly is wisdom to be found in the quotes and writings of great male authority figures, but the advice therein is all of the same sort. When you include women, however, the picture widens – you get a broader perspective. Throughout history, the female experience has been quite different from that of the male. It would then stand to reason that women leaders have powerful insights to share that are not often heard.
Women are and will continue to be a growing part of management professions. As more women complete higher education degrees and enter traditionally male fields of work society will have to catch up, hopefully sooner rather than later. Already there have been notable women to look to for inspiration.
Here are some great examples of management advice from some of the most influential women of all time:
Christine Lagarde – Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
“To me, leadership is about encouraging people. It’s about stimulating them. It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve – and to do that with a purpose.”
Some managers try to lead like military commanders – they point in one direction and expect everyone to follow. It certain situations that might work, but on a day-to-day basis it can quickly get tiresome. Talent is difficult to grow when you only tell it what to do. On the other hand, using an encouraging demeanor can work wonders. After the task has been defined, you don’t necessarily need to explain how to accomplish it. Instead, let others do it their own way. They’ll be happier to do so, and they may even find easier ways of accomplishing the task.
Angela Merkel – Chancellor of Germany
“Always be more than you appear and never appear to be more than you are.”
Managing a large staff takes a balanced approach to personality, interpersonal skills and task delegation, among other responsibilities. The balancing trick is in the smooth way you present yourself – think of it as a juggling act where no one can see the bowling balls and pins circling over your head. Managing staff, handling client communications, building proposals and putting out fires should all be done in the same manner: calmly. To do otherwise would be to seem not only unprofessional but silly. Unless you’re a surgeon, it seems ridiculous to act as if everything on your calendar is a matter of life-or-death.
At the same time, you don’t want to give off the impression that you can handle everything by yourself. You’re a manager, not a superhero. Asking for the opinions and help of your staff will gain their respect and make you seem more personable.
Golda Meir – Fourth Prime Minister of Israel
“A leader who doesn’t hesitate before he sends his nation into battle is not fit to be a leader.”
You may not actually be sending your staff out onto the battlefield, but when it comes to crunch time, it can certainly feel that way. Hesitation in such circumstances should be valued, not shied away from. When you hesitate, you think, and when you think, you make better decisions. As a manager, you are ultimately responsible for the direction of your team and your talent. Making decisions out of hand or with little forethought is disrespectful to those who have place their faith in you. It could even be fatal to the project at hand. In other words, don’t make snap decisions just because you want to appear sure of yourself at all times. If you’re not sure, admit that you need time to think. No one will think less of you, and the results will be better.
Indira Gandhi – Third Prime Minister of India
“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”
Asking questions is something every manager should be comfortable doing. A good manager should also know the difference between a good question and a bad question – and yes, there are such things as bad questions. Asking someone a question that you already know the answer to – with an aim to show off your own knowledge – is a bad question. Good questions are humble and honest – they seek new knowledge. For a manager, this means probing your staff for new solutions to complex problems and taking a personal, mindful approach to communication.
Do you have quotes that have inspired you? Tell us about them by tweeting @MSIGTS