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NEW Town Hall: Women are afraid to be seen as ‘bossy’

Wednesday, July 30, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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More than 200 mostly female leaders shared their opinions on "power, influence and impact” at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 30 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. A live polling event and Town Hall discussion was led by Kendra Doyel, vice president of public relations for the Ralphs and Food4Less divisions of The Kroger Co.

Almost half (49 percent) of attendees said women are sometimes reluctant to embrace power because they "are afraid to be seen as ‘bossy.’” Twenty-six percent attributed possible reluctance to a lack of role models; 16 percent said women were sometimes reluctant because they "were not brought up to be leaders.”

"Power is usually taken by the bold,” according to half (51 percent) of poll participants. Twenty-eight percent said power was "usually given to the well connected” — only 21 percent said it was "earned through hard work.”

"It's not your title that gives you power,” Doyel told the industry’s leaders. "It’s your ability to inspire others.”

Asked how confident they were at work, 44 percent said "very confident,” 32 percent answered "somewhat confident” and 24 percent said "not as confident as I could be.” Confidence, Doyel noted, "can be just as critical to success as competence.”

Only 3 percent of the senior leaders present said they "usually exercise power” through "direct authority.” Nearly half of those taking the live poll (47 percent) said they usually used "persuasion and influence.” Twenty-nine percent said they usually led by "living my core values,” while 22 percent answered "servant leadership.”

Four out of 10 leaders said the "best way to become a more influential leader” was to empower others. Twenty-eight percent said "listen and communicate;” 23 percent said "be creative and collaborative;” and 9 percent said "be passionate about your ideas.”

Strong leaders are authentic at work, Doyel noted. "When you try to be something that you're not, people pick up on that almost immediately.”

Asked their "No. 1 leadership suggestion for a woman starting her career,” only 8 percent said "be bold and shoot for the corner office.” Forty-three percent said "be the best at your job;” 32 percent said "network and serve others;” and 18 percent said "advance your ideas with passion.”

Kendra Doyel of The Kroger Co. led the NEW Forum Town Hall on
women's leadership.

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