We all know that for years girls have been discouraged from leading. While young men are referred to as leaders when they assert themselves, girls are branded as aggressive, angry or too ambitious when they do the same. These thoughts have plagued some of the strongest women leaders.
Ban Bossy, a public service campaign that encourages leadership and achievement in girls, has summed up some practical tips to help all young women “flex their muscles in ways big and small”.
When faced with tasks that test their abilities and feelings that evoke criticism or failure, women tend to seek out ways in which they can control those tasks. However, if you continue to play it safe, you’ll never experience the exhilaration that comes with tackling and overcoming an obstacle and proving your worth, affirms Rachel.
Takeaway: Try pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to someone you’ve never spoken to or enrol in a new gym class.
Stop apologising before you speak
Often when stating their opinions, women will start off by apologising or using up-speak to make their statements sound like questions, suggests co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel Simmons.
Takeaway: Be careful of ways in which you make yourself smaller when you speak, like saying, “you kind of think something” or asking if what you said makes sense.
Ask for help
The most successful people will tell you that they did not make it on their own. Instead they found mentors and advisors – wiser more experienced people – who helped them along the way.
Take away: Don’t be afraid to approach someone you admire. Talk to them, ask them what they know and what they wish they knew whilst growing up.
Trust your inner voice
“We all have a voice playing inside our heads,” says Rachel. “That voice is your gut telling you what you genuinely think, need and want.”
Takeaway: Don’t ignore that voice, Rachel suggests. It’s your inner compass – remain connected to it. Even if you don’t share it now, keep a journal and keep looking out for people who may want to hear it.
You’ve gone through life being told that you need to practice things like homework, sports and music. However, you’re unlikely to come across someone who’ll tell you to speak up or to say what you need to say.
Takeaway: All things in life require practice, and “leaning in is no exception,” Rachel states. “Work those muscles and it’ll get easier with time.”