By Nieves Rodrigues, FASTTRACKTOREFOCUS
I am a feminist but a feminist, like most, that doesn’t want to step over men. It is about diversity and not stepping over the others to make you been heard.
A feminist that wants balance.
A feminist that supports freedom and diversity of thoughts, gender, religion, and race.
I believe in diversity. The diversity I haven’t always experienced during my personal and professional life.
Personally, speaking I can see there is still much to be done in the world. And sometimes this unbalance is deeper in some societies that you would call” developed” … surprinsgly enough.
I am married with an amazing man from a country that everyone would wrongly assume are macho society. And yes, at the beginning he didn’t know how to iron or do things at home (like most of men and nowadays let’s be honest, men and women! ;)) And it took me several years of wearing faded and wrinkled clothes until he learned how to use the washing machine and do the ironing. I could have done it myself. Of course. That is the easiest thing to do but it is one of the problems a lot of women have. We are perfectionist and we prefer to do it all our way. That doesn’t help!
Our previous generations’ (mums and dads!) actions brought us here and now it is up to us to make the change we want to see in the world.
Professionally speaking I can say that since I was 18, I have been surrounded by men in meetings, preparing strategic business plans, when flying in business class cabins (rarely you would see a women), in business lunches and golf events. And in my first job, when I was 18, I was told by a colleague to stay at home cleaning dishes! The man who told me that, after few months, became one of my best friends and supporters. And no, I didn’t have S* with him. I just had the courage to speak up, sit down in front of the table and continue doing my job always the best way possible way. Like any men or women would or should do.
Even my HR manager was not treating people equally! But there was another reason behind that behaviour. My ex-colleagues probably know who I am talking about;)
Sometimes I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.
I had the courage to continue and yes, I went to golf, and lunches and I even smoke a cigar and wear a tie (I have to say I enjoyed that and even ended up designing my own ties;))
I had 2 pregnancies and after having my 2 wonderful kids for more than 2 years I went to work without having a minute of sleep. Could I have stayed at home during a sick leave to rest during the pregnancy? Yes. Could I have called sick when not having enough sleep? Of course. But I didn’t. I didn’t because we all have an obligation to lead by example for our cause. Whatever your cause it. Feminism, LGBT movement, life matters or just give a good example to your kids …
I seated at the front of the table. I went out of my comfort zone. I showed up.
It hasn’t been easy like many people would think.
I started from the very bottom and I managed to get where I wanted to be, showing up and following my personal and professional values, loving, and being loved by my family.
Living in different countries, having different Leadership roles, leading large, small, and diverse teams, living abroad, opening my business abroad, becoming an author with my first book written in English being a non-native English speaker, studying my Master in Corporate and Executive Coaching (results coach as lots of clients call me now) and speaker. And first, partner, and mum.
This was not easy. I had to claim diversity and respect. Or I could have given up. But I didn’t.
And of course, I am not the only one.
This is what we see every day. Men and women taking small steps towards diversity. Diversity of thoughts, gender, religions, and races.
This is what I see talking with my numerous female expatriates’ friends. They are becoming more and more prominent today, as traditional roles are shifting, and the world is changing, allowing for new ways to live and work. While their number is growing, they are not a monolithic entity, and women who choose to expatriate are working either for multinationals who send them on international assignments, or self-employed entrepreneurs.
Also, they can be single, married, with or without children.
The career path.
Most women opting for expatriation share qualities and traits that make them the ideal candidates for an international assignment or any other professional experience abroad.
These characteristics are also linked to the entrepreneurial spirit, that pushes women to create a business, work for themselves and stray from a more conventional career path. Indeed, those expats usually demonstrate great levels of creativity, strong determination, a certain dose of restlessness, and a taste for adventure.
Additionally, they have generally established a previous professional career, display self-confidence, and are skilled managers.
Expatriation, for these women, marks a transition in several ways. First, and quite clearly, it steers their career in a new direction, redefining their employment status and responsibilities.
Also, their roles when it comes to relationships and family are bound to change when moving to a new country for work, whether they do it by themselves or with their spouse and children.
This can change their perception of themselves and how they define their identity as a wife and mother. However, and not surprisingly, an impressive 89% of women in expatriation are single.
Unfortunately, stereotypes are still present in the corporate world, and discrimination based on gender is a reality many women must face. This, in turn, undermines their confidence and makes them less likely to take the plunge, for fear of failure.
Female leadership is necessary in teams, organizations and in society: with this, all benefit. That is why we need leaders from both genders to complement each other.
Some of the features that determine female leadership are:
People-oriented: They are sociable, expressive, and establish close ties, strengthening the possibility of achieving commitments, whether company objectives or a particular project.
Tendency to cooperate: Making teamwork more natural through actively including and containing people. They also see to it that procedures are carried out in an orderly and sound fashion.
Capacity to operate in different directions: They possess the innate capacity to think and operate in different directions at the same time. This offers an advantage when making decisions and facing crises.
Horizontal leadership: Female leadership is inclusive, encourages participation and shares information and power with those she leads. She tends to create and strengthen group identities.
Emotional prevalence: They are generally capable of considering the “human” side of individuals and generate high levels of empathy.
More prone to change: Their style is innovative and has a strong sense of quality that is people-oriented, flexible, communicative, and persuasive.
Organizations today are flatter and more interconnected since changes occur faster than before. Therefore, we look for characteristics like collaboration, empathy, sensibility, and consensus that relate more to the feminine side. In general women tend to participate more in finding the best solutions within a work team.
According to researchers, when women assume a leadership role, they experiment changes in their behaviour: some of their unique features are intensified; features that had previously not been part of their character appear stronger; they have a faster discerning capacity and precision in making decisions. The thing is that when women are given the opportunity to lead or to become the head of a team, they take it as a true challenge and fully focus on the project that is taking place.
Leveraging female leadership traits for success
Just because these leadership traits tend to be more prevalent in female leaders doesn’t mean that they can’t be cultivated by leaders of any gender. By honing your skills as a leader and generally good human, you can easily attain leadership success. Focusing on soft skills like humility, empathy, resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and persuasiveness can help increase both the financial success of a company and the happiness quotient of employees and their family members.
Whether you are a male or female leader, you need to show up if you want to make a difference in your life and in the life of generations to come.