It’s time to celebrate the success of women

In the spirit of celebrating the success of women, I want to reflect on the CliftonStrengths profiles of all the female leaders that I admire that I’ve had the opportunity to do CliftonStrengths coaching or workshops with over the last few years.  

What do you most admire about leaders you respect?

Think for a moment about the leaders you most respect – whether they lead countries, organisations, teams, communities or families.  What is it about these people that makes them truly unique? 

Leadership sometimes gets described as the ability to influence others

Last night, I wrote down a list of female leaders I admire and respect. I then took a look at some of the strengths they exhibit and demonstrate in the world around them (using my Cascade spreadsheet tool, which has all the people I’ve worked on strengths with over the years).

What strengths do these leaders exhibit?  And what is it about these awesome wāhine that I most admire?  Summary insight:  they’re either learning or leaning into their strengths.  

I won’t name names (as that would give away client confidentiality!), but I’d thought I’d list some of the attributes I’ve seen in these female leaders from what I’ve observed as their coach—taking the lens through their CliftonStrengths talent themes.

What success can you see in you?

  • Input: she has resourcefulness about her who knows how to find stuff out, being the go-to person for resources, knowledge, and connections with others.  She’s always providing tangible and practical tools with her team and sharing these with others.
  • RelatorAuthentic, genuine and honest.  She fosters trust in others and believes in the depth of relationships (not just the breadth), and cares deeply about her relationships closest to her in a way that brings trust and loyalty over time.  Have you ever noticed how that awesome female manager you once worked for has had a way of being a ‘magnet’ everywhere she goes – i.e. when she leaves a workplace, people often follow her to the new workplace!  
  • Responsibility:  She makes her ‘yes a yes’ and takes psychological ownership for the responsibilities of what she’s accountable for.  Her natural sense of responsibility means others depend on her to ensure things get done correctly and on time. She’s a leader who loves to serve others.
  • Connectedness: she’s part of something bigger than herself – is intertwined with her work mission, family, community, and global connections.  She appreciates the whole system at play and how we are all entwined in that system.
  • Individualization: She’s fantastic at finding the right person for just the right task.  She’s clued up on what makes different people ‘tick’ (and celebrates that diversity and uniqueness in others) – and has a way of bringing out the best in her team by tailoring her approach to best meet others’ needs.
  • Arranger: I sometimes refer to this strength as the ‘supermum juggler’ – loads of female leaders I’ve come across appear to have this talent theme in their Top 10!  She’s incredible at juggling multiple priorities and demands whilst seamlessly looking reasonably calm on the surface/getting the job done (but inside, it might be more like a duck paddling underwater!).  Constantly flexing with continuous change around her, she knows how to juggle the pieces together and manage multiple projects and personalities all at once. 
  • Strategic:  she naturally sees possibilities and alternative ways of doing things and always has a Plan B, C and D in her back-pocket, helping her team focus on the outcomes they want to achieve.  Her ability to see alternative pathways of navigating issues creates confidence in those who work for her, and her persistence on a course of action despite the setbacks is inspiring.
  • Positivity: her natural enthusiasm and warmth help others see possibilities rather than problems.  Her positive frame of mind allows her team focus on what’s in front of them instead of dwelling on what is wrong in a less-than-perfect world.  “What’s the worst that could happen?” is a question I hear this person say a lot!
  • Communication:  she’s got an ability to bring attention to important messages and is impressive at summarising the information that helps teams find common ground.  She finds ways to fine-tune and maximise her messaging in a way that creates energy, acceptance and understanding.

I could go on and talk about all the 34 CliftonStrengths talent themes that I’ve noticed in female leaders I’ve worked with (but then this blog would probably be too long!).  

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, here’s a big shout out to all the women who’ve inspired me, and the ripple effects you’ve had on so many others around you. 

Gallup has done decades’ worth of research about what makes leaders most effective.  The key findings from this are that the most influential leaders are:

Continuously investing in strengths.

Surround themselves with the right people and then maximise their team.

Understand their followers’ needs.  

If you haven’t read the book by Tom Rath, “Strengths-Based Leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow”, I’d highly recommend it as a good read – to help understand how your strengths help fuel the needs of your ‘followers’ (based on four needs of Trust, Stability, Compassion and Hope).

In the spirit of international women’s day, I would love to invite you to a strengths girl discovery where women (and men!) from all walks of life can discover the unique tools that make up your extraordinary and incredible personal powerhouse. We look at the highs and lows of our talents, and what actions we can take to be our best.

Click below to find out more!