First, a word from April.
This week on The Global Fringe podcast, Kadi gives men solid wisdom on how to develop the female leaders in their lives. I asked if she’d share a bit more from her new book, Developing Female Leaders, in which she surveyed over 1,200 female leaders across the country. Kadi is an advocate for women in leadership, a bridge-builder for those who aren’t there yet, and a practical guide to move from where we are to a world of more equal partnership.
Women, this is a great article to share with the men in your lives.
Men, do you know the female leaders in your life need you?
It’s true. In the midst of a female society whose mantra has become, “I don’t need a man!” it’s difficult to realize how destructive this philosophy really is. In fact, it’s the mirror reflection of a society that degrades and devalues the contributions of females.
The truth is, we need one another: men and women; different races; different age groups. We’re best when we work together. That’s why we want to offer you, as a male leader, 10 key things you can do to champion the female leaders in your life.
Our hope is that you will begin to see the talented, gifted, and anointed women God has brought into your life in a new light. I pray you will catch the vision God has for how you are to equip and empower their dormant potential so your whole community might benefit from their impact, and so that you might fulfill the purpose you have been called to, as well.
So, without further ado, let’s get into these ten action steps.
1. Have a conversation with the female leaders around you.
Ask them about their stories. How have their experiences impacted their leadership? Take time to truly listen and appreciate what they have to say. Chances are that they don’t have a host of male leaders in their lives offering this kind of consideration. Making a difference in one female leader’s life can be as simple as asking, “What do you think?”
2. Define what you believe.
Compare your beliefs to your culture’s behaviors and practices. Are you living out what you say you believe? In today’s world, we desperately need authentic male and female leaders. If the female leaders in your life don’t see a connection between words and actions, it will be harder for them to understand how they fit into the community or organization that you share. Define your beliefs, and encourage others in your circle to do so, as well.
3. Help create a platform for female leaders in your life.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. It could be as simple as reading a book by a female leader; listening to her podcast; asking her opinion in a meeting; applauding her efforts in front of others. There are so many female leaders who have valuable insights to share, and leadership skill to utilize. Supporting them can be absolutely free, but it yields priceless benefits in both their lives and yours.
4. Grow in your communication skills.
This one sounds simple, but it’s actually a lifelong process. Initiating and maintaining healthy relationships are skill sets that most leaders have to develop over time and in the context of a loving and supportive community. Learning how to communicate, work through conflict, listen well, empathize, and genuinely care for others are all keys to participating in and leading healthy communities. If you’re struggling to be on the same page with female leaders, do what you can do communicate better.
5. Be a mentor or a sponsor.
Mentors provide helpful wisdom, practical advice, and consistent feedback in her day to day leadership. Male sponsors, in a different way, open doors for female leaders by advocating for her, nominating her for new leadership opportunities, and extending her reach into leadership environments she can’t reach without a sponsor. No matter your experience or expertise, find a female leader around you and mentor or sponsor her.
6. Create an environment of safety.
Understanding what healthy relationships look like, how to establish healthy boundaries, and how to protect those around you from people who aren’t safe is paramount. No matter if you’re at work, at church, or with friends, the female leaders in your life need you as an ally in this area. There are far too many instances of abuse, harassment, and disrespect in the world; be the difference we desperately need and stand up for those being mistreated.
7. Be honest with the female leaders in your life.
Sometimes, it’s tempting to water down our feedback towards female leaders. We don’t want to hurt feelings or discourage them. However, for the female leaders in your life, honest feedback may be the most valuable thing you can offer them. Give real feedback. Be kind, but authentic. Give practical next steps for growth. If they don’t know how to improve, they never will.
8. Revamp your language.
Introduce, speak about, and honor women with your words. Call them by accurate titles and offer recognition for their accomplishments. So much can be accomplished with the right tone and attitude. Be sure to introduce female leaders in a way that affirms their role on the team, their contributions and the authority they carry. How you talk matters! Pay attention to your language, and make it positive on behalf of the female leaders you know and serve with.
9. Examine the people practices in your church and/or organization.
Here’s a concrete step you can take. Take a closer look at your business’ or church’s people practices such as hiring procedures, HR practices, and culture? Are they up to legal standards? Are they fair and equitable? Are they advocating for a culture where everyone has a seat at the table? If not, what leverage do you have to speak into that? If so, how can you celebrate this reality?
10. Keep Caring.
It’s hard in a jaded society to stay aware—to care. But for those of you who are doing just that, please don’t give up. Please don’t be discouraged. Your consideration, respect, and championing of women go further than you may ever know. Don’t allow yourself to become callous. We need you to keep caring!
Men, you’re more important to female leaders than you think. Your support, sponsorship, and respect go a long way; that’s why it’s so important that we all have a seat at the table, and we all have mutual respect for one another. Implement these ten practices, and you’ll champion the female leaders in your life, helping them to reach their fullest potential—and allowing you to reach yours, as well!