Real World Leadership Strategies for Women


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Sarah Erwin spoke at the 10th annual MSU Women's Leadership Conference on real-world strategies to effectively lead.

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Real World Leadership Strategies for Women

  1. 1. Real World LeadershipStrategies for Women
  2. 2. About meSarah Erwin• In IT Industry since 2000• MSU’s executive MBA class of 2012• Third-degree black belt in Okinawan karate• Operations Manager for Gravity Works Design & Development
  3. 3. LeadershipLeadership is NOT a technique.
  4. 4. LeadershipIS a mindset evidenced by behaviors.
  5. 5. LeadershipThe leader is the person responsible forgetting the job done.
  6. 6. What is “the job”?
  7. 7. LeadershipWhat if you aren’t given instructions orthe goal is vague?
  8. 8. This guy got it Richard Winters • D-Day: “There’s fire along that hedgerow there. Take care of it.” • Brécourt Manor Assault
  9. 9. LeadershipWhat if the job does NOT get done?
  10. 10. Why would they follow you?Know your sources of power!
  11. 11. Sources of powerReferent power• Engendering admiration, loyalty and emulation
  12. 12. Sources of powerReferent power
  13. 13. Sources of powerExpert power• Having knowledge that is valued• (4:54)
  14. 14. Sources of powerExpert power“Alright, listen up. Until we can close thatportal our prioritys containment. Barton, Iwant you on that roof, eyes on everything. Callout patterns and strays. Stark, you got theperimeter. Anything gets more than threeblocks out, you turn it back or you turn it toash. Thor, you gotta try and bottleneck thatportal. Slow em down. You got the lightning.Light ‘em up. [Turns to Black Widow.] You andme, we stay here on the ground, keep thefighting here.And Hulk? Smash.”
  15. 15. Sources of powerReward power• Based on the individuals ability to reward desirable behavior
  16. 16. Sources of powerReward power
  17. 17. Sources of powerReward power• Make your own rewards – Time – Attention
  18. 18. Sources of powerCoercive (punishment) power• Preventing someone from obtaining desirable rewards
  19. 19. Sources of powerCoercive (punishment) power• You’ve already failed• “Because I said so”
  20. 20. Sources of powerCoercive (punishment) power
  21. 21. Sources of powerLegitimate power• Position in the organization
  22. 22. How do you apply your power?Leadership styles
  23. 23. Leadership stylesPacesetting style• Expects and models excellence and self-direction• “Do as I do. Now.”
  24. 24. Leadership stylesPacesetting style• Use when: – Team is already motivated and skilled – Needs quick results• But: – Overwhelm team members – Squelch innovation
  25. 25. Leadership stylesAuthoritative style• Mobilizes the team toward a common vision• Focuses on end goals• Leaves the means up to each individual.• “Come with me.”
  26. 26. Leadership stylesAuthoritative style• Use when: – Team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed• But: – Not good with a group of experts
  27. 27. Leadership stylesAffiliative style• Creates emotional bonds that bring a feeling of belonging• “People come first.”• Women tend to use this style naturally
  28. 28. Leadership stylesAffiliative style• Best when: – Times of stress – Team needs to heal from a trauma – Team needs to rebuild trust• Bad: – Sole reliance fosters mediocre performance and a lack of direction
  29. 29. Leadership stylesCoaching style• Develops people for the future• “Try this.”
  30. 30. Leadership stylesCoaching style• Best when: – Team needs to build lasting personal strength• Bad: – Team is defiant and unwilling to change or learn – Leader lacks proficiency
  31. 31. Leadership stylesCoercive style• Demands immediate compliance• “Do what I tell you.”
  32. 32. Leadership stylesCoercive style• Best: – In times of crisis – Helps control a problem teammate when everything else has failed• Bad: – Avoid in almost every other case • Alienation • Stifles flexibility and inventiveness
  33. 33. Leadership stylesDemocratic/Participative• Builds consensus through participation• “What do you think?”• Women tend to use this style naturally
  34. 34. Leadership stylesDemocratic/Participative• Best when: – Team needs to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal – Leader needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates• Bad: – When time is of the essence – When teammates are not informed enough to offer guidance
  35. 35. Which is best?It depends and can change from interaction tointeraction.
  36. 36. Wait, what?Different people need different motivation atdifferent times.Look at your situation, yourself, and most especially your team.Put yourself in their shoes. Who are they? What do they need?
  37. 37. But… really?Styles are like playing cards. Having a handful of them allows youto choose the right one to play.
  38. 38. This is that part
  39. 39. ScrutinyYOU WILL BE SCRUTINIZED CONSTANTLY!• Think about how you look at professors, bosses, anyone in a leadership position.• Cut others some slack.
  40. 40. StrategiesYour Character• Be consistently 100% honest• Be honest with yourself; know what you do know and what you don’t• DO NOT try to cover up what you don’t know• Ask for help when you need it• Engage in continuous learning
  41. 41. StrategiesYour Actions• Prepare and start the day with a game plan (i.e., to-dos)• Learn people’s first names and greet everyone, every day, as a priority
  42. 42. StrategiesYour Actions• Focus your efforts – Pick your issues and your time• Fight for doing the right thing – If you know about it, you’re responsible for it – If you can identify a problem, you can identify a solution
  43. 43. StrategiesYour Actions• Treat people with respect and tell them when they’ve done a good job – this is not about you• Praise publically, reprimand privately
  44. 44. StrategiesYour Team• Lead by example – Hold yourself to a higher standard• Set expectations and boundaries for jobs and provide necessary information• Get the right people involved and on the right page• Work through issues with people – Listen first, then discuss• Explain why or how decisions are made
  45. 45. StrategiesYour Reputation• Be completely clear about your follow-up; what you will and won’t do• Follow through with personal commitments or come back, explain, take the pain, and learn from it
  46. 46. StrategiesWomen have problems with these• Say “I don’t know; I’ll find out” – Downplay their own competence• If you know, say it/do it with confidence – Loud enough for others to hear – To the group, not your neighbor – Without minimizing words or qualifiers
  47. 47. StrategiesWomen have problems with these• Make decisions when you need to – Socialized to please – Accusations of being too pushy are designed to keep you quiet – Know where you want to go and only take steps that lead in that direction – Learn to say “no”
  48. 48. ConfidenceBe comfortable defying expectations – “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – George R. R. Martin
  49. 49. StrategiesWomen have problems with these• Maintain confidences and trust of those who are absent• Do not turn statements into questions – Softer approach, but doing so relinquishes ownership of and outcomes for your idea – Use “I propose we…” or “I’m interested in…”• Capitalize on relationships – Women don’t want to “take advantage” – Men rely on relationships to open doors for them (success by affiliation), which is why they build relationships in the first place
  50. 50. StrategiesWomen have problems with these• Choose your own behavior, demonstrate a positive attitude and work to influence others – DO NOT react to other people – Women tend to stay in their safety zone for fear of getting in over their heads• Take high-profile assignments – If offered a new position or assignment, take it. Others have confidence you can do the job, you should too.
  51. 51. StrategiesWomen have problems with these• Focus on the issue, not the person – DO NOT make conflict personal and emotional• Don’t apologize or ask permission – Conflict-reducing technique – Assume equality and inform others of your intentions – Save apologies for big-time mistakes • Apologize once then • Move to problem-solving mode
  52. 52. Wow, that’s a lot of stuffLeadership is a lifelong challenge• All of these things above• Everything I’ve talked about• Live them• Every day
  53. 53. Even betterLeadership is a lifelong challenge• “If youre dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If youre smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” -Isaac Jaffe “Sports Night”
  54. 54. FinallyLeadership is a lifelong challenge• You have to forge an identity for yourself that successfully integrates all of the different styles, sources of power, and strategies. It must work in all aspects of your life and be believable.
  55. 55. Thank you!Contact information : @erwinsar