Tips for Leading Hard-to-Lead Women


Sometimes, the hardest woman to lead is yourself! Nicole Unice offers helpful strategies for focusing first on your own issues before applying your knowledge to others.

Sometimes, the hardest woman to lead is yourself.

When dealing with the dynamics of leading hard-to-lead women, start with five questions for yourself:

Do you understand invisible dynamics?

Invisible dynamics are the unspoken, sometimes unnoticed relationship rhythms that exist between two parties. Think about a woman you love to lead, and about a woman that’s hard to lead. Most likely, they both bring strengths and weaknesses to the table, and ways of interacting that make her easy or difficult to deal with. Now, think about yourself. How would you apply this same matrix to yourself. By owning our own issues, we naturally become better leaders.

Can you get to the heart of the matter?

Discerning the real problem is a key strength in a great leader. So often when we deal with conflicts in leadership, the “problem” being presented to us is just the tip of the iceberg. Successful leaders try to see the whole iceberg. To determine what is making someone difficult to lead, a leader must use self-restraint and patience to root out the real problem. Continue to ask questions until the real problem is uncovered, and then restating the problem until both parties agree can be a helpful first step.

There are also specific ways we can deal with some major personality types.

Leading the dominator:

Dominators tend to be confident and direct and will do best with confident and direct responses. Remember that they tend to roll people over with their personalities and often don’t know that they are being hurtful. These women are usually more interested in getting to the point and less interested in high “relational” time.

Leading the manipulator (or passive-aggressive):

On a great day, this woman is a ‘charmer’; on a bad day, she’s a ‘manipulator’. She is quick on her feet and smooth with her words. Getting to the heart of the matter is always important with a manipulator because they will not lead with the real problem. A manipulator will be more likely to talk behind your back than to your face. It is important to nip this in the bud. For example, you will want to encourage others to send the person directly to you with concerns. Remember to model this behavior yourself.

Leading the silence-ator (or deeply insecure):

This woman is most likely to drift off without you knowing there was ever a problem. Rather than being direct or manipulative, this woman will begin to ignore and/or shrink away from the group. It takes particular care (especially if YOU are a dominator/manipulator) to reach this woman. One-to-one interactions will probably help, as well as assuming the best in her. Establishing trust is crucial for direct conversation, as well as understanding that your sincere efforts may not be enough—and that you can release her back to the Lord, who knows her, loves her and understands the work He is doing in her.

A well-remembered phrase from my graduate training in counseling is “Counselor, Heal Thyself!” The same applies here. When we turn the mirror on ourselves, focusing first on our own issues before applying our knowledge to others, we allow God to shape us into the women he’s creating us to be! And that’s a beautiful way to lead.

Written by Nicole Unice

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