10 Unique Challenges Women in Leadership Face
If there is a challenge for all of us—male or female—it is to become who God made us to be.
Regardless of gender, we all face challenges. The beauty of identifying and understanding our unique challenges lies within the understanding of them. When we understand the challenges, we can create a game plan to move forward.
Knowing that the ultimate challenge for all of us is becoming who God made us to be, here are 10 challenges women face that you may have read about, heard debated, or even debated yourself.
Challenge #1: Women are too emotional.
Truth: We’re all emotional. We’re human.
Do women cry? Yep. Do men cry? You bet. We’re human. We have emotions. How we process our emotions matters. As leaders—for both guys and gals—we must find the appropriate balance of processing our emotions authentically (yes, tears are ok!) while leading confidently forward, choosing to not be blinded by our emotions in the moment.
Challenge #2: Women aren’t emotional enough.
Truth: We don’t always cry…and that’s okay.
While this is the polar opposite of being overly emotional, at times, women can be seen as cold, stoic, or just uninterested simply because they’re not sharing their emotions. The danger for female leaders here lies within stuffing our emotions down, hiding what we’re truly feeling for the sake of “leadership”. That’s not healthy. Just as in leaning toward being too emotional, leaders must navigate learning to authentically share emotions in appropriate ways, not always burying what’s going on inside one’s heart and mind.
Challenge #3: Women who choose work over family aren’t good mothers.
Truth: Being who God uniquely designed you to be makes you a good mother, not a culture-defined stereotype.
Choosing to be a working mom doesn’t make you less of a mom. One choice isn’t better or wiser than the other. It simply boils down to obeying what God is leading as a best next step for you and your family.
Challenge #4: Women who choose family over work aren’t good leaders.
Truth: The best leaders know what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to; choosing to be who God uniquely made you to be is the mark of a good leader.
Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom doesn’t diminish your value by any means. Just as with ladies who carry the burden of choosing the alternative, both choices are difficult and both require sacrifice. The best decision a leader can make is in taking the next best step in front of her.
Challenge #5: Women who take charge are classified as the office b****.
Truth: Leading confidently requires making decisions.
Leading isn’t always popular. Decisions must be made, deadlines met, and accountability put in place. Leaders often make tough calls that not everyone likes. When female leaders make tough decisions or boldly hold others accountable, they’re not being bossy. They’re being a leader. We can always lead with grace and kindness, knowing that tough calls need to be made.
Challenge #6: Women can’t work with men.
Truth: With healthy boundaries in place, women and men can work together and thrive.
It takes two to tango. We’re all accountable for our actions and can establish boundaries, guidelines, and safety measures. Rather than living fearfully that an “oops” moment will happen, we must lead wisely, establishing processes, not fearful objections.
Challenge #7: Women are push-overs.
Truth: Leading with kindness is not the same thing as being a doormat.
Do females typically tend to be more caring and nurturing? Yes—it’s a part of our make-up, who God designed us to be. However, in leadership, showing that you care doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not standing your ground. We can lead and still be kind.
Challenge #8: Women are too mean—have you seen Mean Girls?
Truth: When women link arms and cheer each other on, there’s no greater force!
Can women be mean to each other? Absolutely. But the flip side of that is also true—when women are cheering each other on, anything is possible. As women, we must fan the flame of working together, not against each other. We are better together!
Challenge #9: Women should be seen and not heard.
Truth: Women have important things to say and they aren’t defined by their bodies.
Women are more than a pretty face—women are smart and are offering life-changing solutions to the biggest problems we face as a people today. When a woman’s voice is not heard, we are missing out on both the male and female perspective that God so uniquely and beautifully designed.
Challenge #10: Women don’t believe in themselves.
Truth: When women do choose to believe in themselves, there’s nothing that can stop them.
And therein lies the greatest challenge of all—confidence in who we are and in who God made us to be.
Here’s what I know to be true because I’ve experienced it in my own story: when I know who I am and Whose I am, I can conquer anything. Regardless of gender, our leadership experience is what we make it. Are we choosing to lean in and become the leaders God designed us to be? Or are we passively sitting on the sidelines, allowing others to dictate the type of leader we’ll become? That’s not the life I want to lead or the legacy I want to leave behind.
Challenges seek out each and every one of us—regardless of if you’re a man or a woman. To the guys reading, I know you face unique challenges as well. The above challenges certainly aren’t designed as a feminist rant or crusade; shedding light on both our challenges and truths provides us the opportunity to learn and grow, to become who God made us to be.
To all of you fabulous leading women: you may or may not feel the pressure of the 10 unique challenges listed above, but I do know this: you are strong, you are equipped and you are called. Don’t forfeit your calling because of a label, and don’t fail to lead because you don’t believe you can. Friend, you are a leader. Don’t ever doubt it. Embrace becoming who God made you to be—it’s the most rewarding journey you’ll ever embark on.