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Being a good leader begins with knowing yourself from the inside out — and knowing yourself begins with recognizing your strengths. Women with the drive to be leaders need to acknowledge and utilize their inherent, yet subtle advantages.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership, “Most Americans find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men in terms of being compassionate and organized leaders.” While women still unfortunately face some hurdles in their desire to move into leadership positions, times are definitely changing — and common stereotypes are now shifting to a more favorable view of women in leadership positions. Women are now generally thought to be better at compromising, perceived as being more honest and ethical, and more likely to be an inspiring mentor for younger staff and associates.
Women are also excellent at networking and building new relationships. Successfully marketing yourself as an industry leader takes confidence in your own competence, the moxy to acknowledge and learn from anyone who can teach you, and an instinct for team building. Building a tight and collaborative network fosters an important exchange of ideas between peers, seasoned veterans, and those just setting out along their career path.
Another key strength of women in leadership positions is their ability to stay positive and come up with creative solutions in the face of adversity. Survival skills honed by the challenges of caring and providing for our families over the millennia have developed into incredibly flexible problem-solving capabilities. Women in leadership positions are proactively thinking about solutions instead of dwelling on problems and the past.
One of the most undervalued qualities in industry leaders who happen to be female is their thirst for knowledge and a healthy dose of skepticism. Constantly seeking knowledge is the most important investment a budding leader can make. Women in leadership positions know how crucial it is to ask the right kinds of questions — and they won’t be easily fooled or taken advantage of. True authenticity and practicality are key to women as leaders, whether of the household or in the boardroom.
Female leaders in all industries should embrace renewal and reinvention. Women are absolute geniuses at going with the flow and adapting staid business plans to new innovations. Technology is ever-changing, but studies show that women are now moving to the forefront of new developments in mobile technology, cloud computing, wearable fitness devices, and technology for social change.
Women leaders of the fitness industry now have a unique opportunity to network, educate, and discuss the important issues. The Women in Fitness Association is going to be playing a huge role in bringing together women in leadership positions across the fitness spectrum. WIFA supports professional women with community, networking, and mentorship opportunities. Offering a space to focus on women’s issues and initiatives in the fitness industry, the Women in Fitness Association will also help foster member success by building a strong support network.
The rarefied world of executive leadership is finally opening up to more women and that dreaded “glass ceiling” is hopefully becoming nothing but an old saw. New technology, new media, and new revolutions in conventional wisdom are helping more women succeed than ever before — and that’s great news for everyone.
Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business advisor, founder, writer and keynote speaker to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter@LindseyRainH2O.