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MSBCoach Blog

by JoAnn Auger, Executive Coach and Trainer, MSBCoach

As a woman who has been in the workplace since the 70’s, I believe that we women have certainly made a great deal of progress and impact.  There is definitely more progress to be made especially in the area of leadership.  It always “pains” me when I hear a woman question how she should “act” as a leader.   My simple answer to that question is always to act like you, but I know that the question and concern goes much deeper.  So here are some of thoughts about who we should be as leaders:

  • First and foremost, be authentic.  People want and deserve the real you.  And you can be sure that people can spot a “fake”. Finding your own voice is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and others. This takes a good deal of self-awareness and feedback from trusted advisors. And a willingness to grow.


  • Strong competencies and good skills are the make-up of a great leader.  Be honest about what you have to offer.  Don’t hide behind the “they are picking on me because I am a woman” excuse. Do your competencies and skills align with the needs of your workplace? Competencies and skills are not gender specific. We are capable of improving/growing. There are plenty of ways to improve…a good mentor and/or a coach that will challenge you is a place to start.  Be willing to learn from everyone without regard to position or power.  Value and learn from your experiences. Seek opportunities that will stretch you and maximize your time by focusing on getting good results and building good relationships.
  • All humans are emotional beings. It is by the degree and amount of control of those emotions that we are judged.  If people describe you as too emotional, you may have some work to do.  And, yes, women tend to more emotional but it should not be a weakness.  Also, there is a difference between passion and emotion.  Don’t confuse the two.
  • Accept and relish that, as women, we bring much to the workplace.  We bring different perspectives, ideas and leadership styles and that is a good thing.  We need to remember that respect is a two-way street. We do this by respecting and appreciating what others contribute.  It is not about competing to be heard but having something that needs to be said.

I will end with a lesson that I learned many years ago:  My first leadership position was in a predominantly all male environment with all male leadership.  Every Friday for the first six months, I would write my resignation letter.  The guys were rude and crude.  And my direct supervisor was so demanding and always having me “re-think” most of my decisions.  He said that I thought way too much with my heart and emotions and not enough with my head.  In meetings, everyone talked over or just ignored me.  On one particular Friday when once again I was trying to hand in my resignation letter, my supervisor gave me some advice that I still appreciate.  He asked me what kind of leader I wanted to be and what did I “bring to the table”?  He said that people wanted a leader who was confident, knowledgeable, honest, and that would go the distance with them, leading the charge.  To be that kind of leader, I needed to be honest with myself, learn from everyone and stand up with a confident voice when necessary.  And the final thing he said, “The only thing that should make you cry is a personal tragedy or that of another person. Never should it be anything that has to do with this work.  What we do here every day deserves our full attention and our best effort but never does it deserve crying or being upset over.  At the end of the day if you have given your very best and challenged others to do the same, you have been a good leader.”  With that he tossed my resignation letter (for the final time) in the trash and told me to leave his office and go do my job.  So, I leave you with this: Go do your job and do with it confidence!


JoAnn Auger, Executive Coach and Trainer, MSBCoach

JoAnn Auger serves as a coach/consultant/educator with MSBCoach. JoAnn’s experience was developed through for the largest auto insurer in the US. JoAnn incorporates more than 30 years of business and personal experience to help organizations and individuals identify and close gaps in performance and needed results. She does that by helping leaders maximize their own potential and then teaches that leader how to tap into and leverage the potential of their employees.

JoAnn is certified and trained in the following areas:

  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI)
  • Human Performance Improvement(HPI)
  • Coaching Core Essentials Program(CEP) and Essential
  • Conversations for Developing Others(Corporate Coach)
  • Essential Facilitation
  • Criterion-Reference Instructional Design(CRI)
  • DiSC
  • FIRO-B


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One Response to Still a Man’s World?

  • Lyn Boyer says:

    JoAnne, Thanks for your very valuable comments. These are ideas that women must keep in mind when working in the “real” world. It is easy to hide behind a sense of frustration that things are not the way we would like, but the only way women (and men) can be successful is to recognize their own strengths and limitations and be clear on the culture in which they work. The advice you former supervisor gave you is very important. Sometimes it is hard to hide the tears when life and work seem unfair, but it is usually just a job. When job becomes one’s life, our priorities are out of sync.

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