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Use this leadership approach for women at work

Joyce Lebelo

Women can achieve what they want by knowing what they want and creating a framework to achieve these goals. Smart companies understand the benefits of having female leaders and create corporate cultures that allows women to realise their ambitions. By combining the skills-sets of men and women, companies can create a more holistic leadership team, which is better equipped to manage the challenges of running an organisation. This holistic approach could bring about a powerful contribution and eliminate any blind spots that could be experienced by a male-only team. It's a win-win if you know how to do it...

In a world where women at work are still jaded by their ability to manage their male peer's perception of them, it's up to women to create the career path they want. A book called Pushback by Selena Rezvani highlights four steps that will help women successfully and effectively negotiate for the things they want.

These steps can be used to improve negotiating skills

When it comes to negotiating in the workplace, women end up accepting less - meaning lower salaries, less senior positions, limited flexibility - simply because they haven't clearly articulated their desires and they haven't stood their ground. The data around women's earning potential and the number of women in leadership positions supports this.

1. Prepare psychology

Emotions can break down your negotiation prowess, so prepare yourself mentally. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Speak to colleagues or do an on- line personality assessment to better understand your negotiating style, you can even go as far as role playing the conversation with someone you trust. Know clearly what your goals are and how you can achieve them, what is expected from the other party and what you can give in exchange.

2. Do your homework

She says that when women do their pre-negotiation homework, they enter the room with a different confidence, sit with a little more authority and argue their case unapologetically.

There is homework to be done before we get to the negotiating table. People are often inclined to think about issues from their own perspective, but ensure you understand your negotiating counterpart's

perspective and goals. Gain access to information by speaking to people within your network, build relationships by asking questions to gain different viewpoints and additional information. Understand all the potential objections so that you're in a position to address them assertively and confidently.

3. Be ready to manoeuvre through the conversation

This involves everything from asking for the best possible outcome and being prepared to make some concessions if necessary, to build rapport with your counterparts.

Being assertive is the most overused term when it comes to women and leadership. I believe it's more about tactical manoeuvring than it is about being aggressive. Also, understand the value in silence. Speak slowly with deliberate pauses, giving your counterpart time to consider your request.

Once your negotiation is finalised, summarise the results in writing and distribute to all affected parties.

4. Follow up

Lebelo explains that this is the time to reflect on what you have learned from the process - what were your weak points and what the strong points were. Use this information to develop a long-term view towards future negotiations. Celebrate your successes and don't become despondent if you did not achieve the desired outcome.

Women's leadership is a two-way conversation

The responsibility to create a gender equal culture lies on everyone. Employers can encourage women by creating a culture where all employees feel safe, valued and connected. Flexible and inclusive policies that allow women the ability to be more agile in the workplace so they're able to make a more valuable contribution show a fundamental respect for the benefits of having male and female role models.

Joyce Lebelo

Partner and managing executive: e-Learning, Joyce Lebelo, is one of the foundation builders of the LRMG experience. Her people development journey started in the United States and settled in South Africa 12 years ago. Her education is rooted in commercial finance and her professional experience has concentrated on small business operating strategy. She has held various corporate management positions in which she grew her resourcefulness of uncovering new ways to gain great results from often limited human capital.

Joyce believes in the power of people and knows that corporate excellence is only achieved as a result of the culture and practice of personal excellence and that people who thrive also grow and excel, allowing them to be catalysts of excellence in their organisations. Her greatest passions lie in the areas of change management and internal branding. She has been part of LRMG since 2010.