7 Workplace Shifts That Happen When Women Lead

If you’re a female leader, you know that your leadership style is just…different than that of your male colleagues. But why? What is in women’s wiring that makes our leadership unique? Keri Ladouceur, founder of New Ground Network, continues her talk on launching a movement by focusing on what might be holding women back when all they want to do is lead, and the seven workplace shifts that happen when a woman steps into a leadership role.

You can listen to this entire conversation with Keri on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

What could hold women back from feeling like they can lead a movement in their spheres of influence?

Just look at how men and women are socialized and cultured differently, and you can see some of the real obstacles that women face. Several years ago I learned from a woman named Ellen Duffield, who wrote a book called Brave Women. In her book, she backs the idea that men and women are socialized and cultured differently with data and research. A man will apply for a job if he has 50-70% of the criteria required for the job. Women will only apply for a job if they have 100% of the criteria. 

From a very young age, there are ways women are cultured and socialized to accommodate the needs of people around them. There are ways—subtly and overtly—that women are told they’re to be seen and not heard, or they’re to speak when they’re spoken to. They’re cultured and socialized to not rock the boat. When you think about what it takes to lead a movement or to be a visionary, you have to name the tension or the gap between where we are and where things should be…and that’s quite disruptive.

So there are some real natural obstacles that women have to overcome to be able to find their voice in a space. To find your voice in a space around a boardroom table can be challenging. Women are socialized in culture to not trust their inner wisdom or intuition, or to diminish it or devalue it as opposed to the wisdom or intuition of a man. Ellen’s research discovered that a girl’s self-confidence peaks at nine years old. Nine years old is the age when a woman’s self-confidence is the highest it will ever be, because that’s the age when she is between abstract and concrete thinking. It’s the age when she realizes she’s never going to be able to fulfill all of the expectations and the mixed messages that are out there for how women are supposed to engage or behave in order to belong.

I know I’ve said several things here, but there are lots of internal and external messages in the air that we breathe that contribute to the ways women are socialized and cultured and create additional obstacles for women to be able to fully show up and steward the influence that they carry in spaces that need the voices and leadership of women. 

You have identified seven shifts that result when women are leading. Can you share more about those shifts? 

I noticed these shifts when I thought, what if we just looked at the opportunity instead of the obstacles when we unleashed women? As I began to reflect on that, there were seven things that emerged so quickly for me. The first shift is that women see leadership as being the tide that lifts all boats, not being the boat out in front going the fastest. The second shift I perceive is that women seek to build ecosystems of flourishing and shared learnings and wins, not empires where they’re queen over all. 

The third shift I perceive is that women lead in a way that values collaboration over competition. They seek to bring out the best of everyone, not pit women or men against one another. The fourth shift I perceive is, when I see women grounded in themselves as leaders and bringing their best self to the leadership table, those women lean into empathy and intuition and emotional health over what we would sort of tend to prioritize in our culture as rational thinking. The fifth shift I perceive is that women prioritize far and wide impact.

The sixth shift I perceive is that women pursue the actual embodiment of our values, not just the desire to have aspirational vision statements that are empty. Women want to actually live into what we say we’re about, not just have great vision statements. And finally, the seventh shift I perceive is that women really value transformational leadership over simply transactional leadership. These seven shifts emerged nearly immediately as I was imagining how women lead movements differently than men, and I can’t wait to dive into them further this month. 

Keri Ladouceur is a pastor, teacher, incessantly curious question asker, and bridge building peacemaker. She believes the fullness of the gospel is liberative good news for all of creation and longs to cultivate new faith spaces of mutuality and flourishing for all people.

She is founder of New Ground Network, where she co-conspires with pastors, denominations, and organizational leaders to clarify and align around their purpose. One of her favorites roles is organizational coach where she is part dreamer, instigator, activator and team counselor. She has an MA in New Testament from Northern Seminary, and her imagination for the Beloved Community has been primarily shaped by her native heritage and liberation thinkers and theologians.

She dreams of the Church being a life-giving community of flourishing that activates the people of God to join Christ in the redemption and restoration of all things.