Women confront particular difficulties when it comes to asserting themselves in the workplace. Success in management and leadership depends on the ability to assert one’s authority. Female leaders are more prone to apologize, add disclaimers, or be unduly careful when speaking. Some go beyond with the explanations and apologies, even when they aren’t necessary.
After working in a male-dominated industry for more than two decades, I’ve come across many instances earlier in my career where I’ve felt like my input didn’t matter, that my opinions weren’t taken seriously and that I was reluctant to speak up about issues about which I was well-versed. I attribute my change to the three C’s: Communication, Constraints, and Confidence.
Communication: Effective communication to share your position or point of view is not a sign of insecurity. When you communicate clearly, you will quickly notice that you command more attention and respect, and you will receive more satisfactory responses. Avoid statements about “you” and instead focus on your team and how they will benefit from the conversation.
Constraints: There will always be constraints in any industry, but managing these constraints in the construction industry is highly likely in your day-to-day operations. Don’t wait for the “ideal time” to address these constraints with employees and clients. Getting ahead of issues will make your staff and clients feel more at ease with the overall process and/or project. Remove the fear of being disliked or labeled; your job is to identify constraints and develop positive solutions to help move everyone forward.
Confidence: It may not come easily, but you have to dig deep and find it. Anticipate challenges and prepare effective responses so that you know exactly what you’re talking about. You want to demonstrate to your team and clients that they can rely on you and your decision-making processes. Be well-versed in your idea so that you can defend it with confidence and facts. Know and believe in your unique abilities.
Speak clearly and don’t be afraid to express yourself. Seek mentorship, and professional assistance, and continue to educate yourself to help cement your leadership growth in the workplace.