Do you fantasize about a life in which your colleagues are willing to take your lead?

Do you long for the day that your associates will agree to collaborate with you on a shared vision?  Can you imagine a world in which you feel like you’re moving with your team at the office instead of like a salmon swimming upstream while your comrades head south?

It is possible to make a U-turn and get back into the flow, but first a few realities have to be acknowledged.

Any woman who has spent time in the workplace knows that there can be resistance to accepting female leadership.  For as long as women have been bringing home the bacon, we have heard from those on the front lines about being held to a standard just high enough that their heads scrape the glass ceiling.

Not to mention the fact that a woman who shows strength and decisiveness can be seen as “abrasive” (that’s code for “bitchy”) while the same traits in a man will lead to respect and praise.  Sprinkle on some sexual harassment and it’s no wonder you end up with a thick stew of lonely female pied pipers playing little tunes for their audiences of one.

Ugh.  Is it time for a nap yet?

Are we still dealing with this in 2015?  Sure, it’s gotten much better.  Those of us starting out in the workplace in the eighties, remember blatant sexual harassment and overt discrimination when it came to raises in pay and titles.  It was so pervasive, we didn’t expect anything different. We ignored, worked harder, pretended the comments were “funny,” and kept forging ahead.  And women like my mother, who started working in the 60’s, can tell you stories that will make you pop your pill box hat!

So the reality today is still not perfect, but we can learn from the progress we have experienced to start moving forward in a new way.  Maybe leadership is about breaking some rules and capitalizing on your unique strengths?

Coach Me Quick tips for being a Leader People Want to Follow:

1. Awareness is everything.

Start by looking around.  Assess your environment by identifying the weaknesses and strengths of everyone that you interface with in the workplace.  Every person (even the jerk in the next office) has strengths.  How can you capitalize on their strengths to support your vision?

2. Acknowledge early and often.

People thrive on acknowledgement.  Go out of your way to compliment colleagues on their work, ideas and output.  When you are in a meeting or on a conference call, give credit to others at every opportunity.  Nothing makes you a more powerful leader than your ability to give credit to others.

3. Access Find something new to lead.

Create a new idea or project.  Rather than trying to take the reins from someone else who is doing the job badly, create a reason for people to get excited about something new.  If you prove yourself to be an innovative thinker, the reins will be given to you.

4. Accept responsibility when things go wrong.

Every success meets failure along the way.  Be the woman who proclaims “the buck stops with me, and I take responsibility!”  With responsibility comes power – the power to change course.  Take responsibility whenever possible.

5. Align with your values.

If you are always charging ahead toward a goal that resonates with your values, you will not be unhappy if you end up alone.  Sometime leadership means traveling the path alone until others can see your vision.  If the vision resonates with you, you will not have wasted your time.

Leading the charge in L.A.,


Photo credit: Wirawat Lian-udom via Compfight