Top tips to help you become a ‘non-threatening’ female leader

29 Jul 2016

Being a leader is hard. Being a female leader seems doubly hard. But what if there were some solid steps to make the job a whole lot less confrontational?

Leadership is difficult to box into one, digestible and understandable phrase. It’s a bit of one thing, and a bit of another. Authoritarian to a degree, conciliatory to another. Yet, there does seem to be a divide in perception.

That divide can be felt along gender lines, with assertiveness in a man often construed as stubbornness in a woman.

What for a man could be termed solid, clear thinking and trusting in your team’s suggestions might, for a woman, signify weakness or an unwillingness to stick to your guns.

Emotion in a leader is rarely discussed when critiquing men, though it’s front and centre when women try to rise up the ladder.

female leadership non threatening

Though the biggest problem, according to a wonderful new series of cartoons, is threatening behaviour.

American comedian Sarah Cooper has recently delved into the world of female leadership, which is populated by overly threatening behaviour, it seems.

In response, Cooper devised a simple nine-step programme to allow women lead without having to cause friction – because we can’t have that.

The advice starts off relatively low-key. When setting a deadline, instead of saying ‘This has to be done by Monday’, why not turn it into a question, like ‘What do you think about getting this done by Monday?’.

Don’t tell people you have an idea, rather, you’re just ‘thinking out loud’, ‘throwing something out there’ or sharing something ‘dumb’, ‘random’ or ‘crazy’.

Never email someone a statement like ‘send me that report when it’s ready’. Instead fill your email with emoji and exclamation points. We are all friends, right?

Laugh away sexist comments, do not address them. Relish in a co-worker telling you something you talked about months previous.

Cooper’s full work is excellent, and can be seen here. But below is a selection for you to enjoy:


Main image of an overly-threatening female leader via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic