By Dr. Kellen Kiambati

Gender parity is an issue that has gained a lot of credence today. It has been proved through research and evidence that inclusive leaders and organizations outperform those that are not. Women to be specific play multiple roles (at the workplaces and home) and there are certain features within them that need to be harnessed. When well managed, these features contribute to a ripple of intrinsic transformation which in turn assists in the achievement of excellence in all spheres of their life.

Below are a number of things that women should do in order to hone their leadership skills:
• Gain tools for developing their professionalism, new skills, and business contacts;
• Learn how to become authentic leaders and overcome obstacles to leadership;
• Increase their connections and boost their circle of influence;
• Recognize bias and barriers and how to remove them;
• Develop strategies to manage conflict, increase confidence and communicate effectively;
• Identify steps for avoiding hidden obstacles, seizing opportunities and being seen as a leader.

a) The tools
Specialized knowledge
First and foremost, professionals are known for their specialized knowledge. They’ve made a deep personal commitment to develop and improve their skills, and where appropriate, they have the degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this knowledge.Not all business areas have a stable core of knowledge. What matters, though, is that these professionals have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in their respective fields.

Professionals get the job done. They’re reliable, and they keep their promises. If circumstances arise that prevent them from delivering on their promises, they manage expectations up front, and they do their best to make the situation right.

Honesty and integrity
Professionals exhibit qualities such as honesty and integrity. They keep their word, and they can be trusted implicitly because of this. They never compromise their values, and will do the right thing, even when it means taking a harder road.

Professionals hold themselves accountable for their thoughts, words, and actions, especially when they’ve made a mistake. This personal accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it’s a vital element in professionalism.

They also remain professional and level headed even when under pressure. In addition, they have high levels of emotional intelligence

b) Increasing connections and boosting your circle of influence
• Understand and accept;
• Be proactive;
• Be a good listener;
• Practice empathy;
• Be solution oriented;
• Accept responsibility;
• Appreciate others;
• Be visionary;
• Sift through the information;
• Be passionate;
• Educate yourself constantly;
• Be a person of integrity and values;
• Avoid the never ending chase;
• Gain influence online;
• Recognize bias and barriers and how to remove them.
c) Developing strategies to manage conflict, increase confidence and communicate effectively
In order to achieve this goal, the leaders should choose their fights because some of them are not worth their time and energy. If need be, they should resolve conflicts with speed (being spot on). Lastly, they should strive to be very good communicators.
d) Seizing opportunities and being seen as a leader
To start with, as a leader, delegate easy tasks in order to have time for the demanding ones. Fools cling to familiarity and ease. What is easy for you may be challenging to others. Help others do what you do well. Indeed, one way to develop yourself is to develop others. Secondly, spend more time reflecting on your performance and less on others. When your performance improves, the people around you improve. Thirdly, leaders should learn how to take new challenges because it helps them to grow.
By the same token, they should record daily insights and observations. When they hear something curious or surprising, they should explore it. Moreover, it is advisable for them to swim against the current because following the trodden path obscures their potential.
In conclusion, women in leadership need to appreciate that hard work and excellence though vital are not enough. They should learn to network, prioritize, speak up, dress well and stay positive.
Dr. Kellen Kiambati holds a PhD in business administration with a focus on strategic management from JKUAT and an MBA from KEMU. She is a certified business associate (CBPA) and a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management of Kenya. She is also the author of business Research Methods and can be reached on



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