Originally published on The Cooper Review and republished here with their permission.
In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent. One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the (sometimes) fragile male ego.
Should men accept powerful women and not feel threatened by them? Yes. Is that asking too much? Is it? Sorry, I didn’t mean to get aggressive there. Anyhoo, here are nine non-threatening leadership strategies for women.
When setting a deadline, ask your coworker what he thinks of doing something, instead of just asking him to get it done. This makes him feel less like you’re telling them what to do and more like you care about his opinions.
When sharing your ideas, overconfidence is a killer. You don’t want your male coworkers to think you’re getting all uppity. Instead, downplay your ideas as just “thinking out loud,” “throwing something out there,” or sharing something “random” or “crazy.”
Pepper your e-mails with exclamation marks and emojis so you don’t come across as too clear or direct. Your lack of efficient communication will make you seem more approachable.
If a male coworker steals your idea in a meeting, thank him for it. Give him kudos for how he explained your idea so clearly. And let’s face it, no one might’ve ever heard it if he hadn’t repeated it.
When you hear a sexist comment, the awkward laugh is key. Practice your awkward laugh at home, with your friends and family, and in the mirror. Make sure you sound truly delighted even as your soul is dying inside.
Men love explaining things. But when he’s explaining something and you already know that, it might be tempting to say “I already know that.” Instead, have him explain it to you over and over again. It will make him feel useful and will give you some time to think about out how to avoid him in the future.
Pointing out a mistake is always risky, so it’s important to always apologize for noticing the mistake and then make sure that no one thinks you’re too sure about it. People will appreciate your “hey what do I know?!” sensibilities.
When collaborating with a man, type using only one finger. Skill and speed are very off-putting.
When all else fails, wear a mustache so everyone sees you as more man-like. This will cancel out any need to change your leadership style. In fact, you may even get a quick promotion!
Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian, and creator of TheCooperReview.com. Her first book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, comes out October 4th. Sign up for her free newsletter to get updates. Connect with her via Twitter @sarahcpr.