8 Effective Leadership Styles for Women in Business

Women in Business

In the dynamic landscape of women in business, leadership styles can make a significant impact. We’ve gathered insights from eight female leaders, including founders and CEOs, to share the styles they’ve found most effective. From empathy and authenticity to team-focused leadership, these are the diverse approaches that have resonated in their professional journeys.

  • Empathy and Authenticity
  • Coaching
  • Unapologetic Confidence
  • Transformational
  • Affiliative
  • Collaborative
  • Democratic
  • Team-Focused

Empathy and Authenticity – Michele Ross, Founder & CEO, M. Ross & Associates, LLC

Michele RossOne style that I’ve found to resonate profoundly with women in the legal sector is leading with empathy and authenticity. This style foregrounds the empowerment of future female leaders by acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges they encounter, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields like law.

The efficacy of this approach lies in its underlying ethos of solidarity and guidance. Mentorship creates a supportive framework wherein experienced women leaders help the upcoming generation not just to excel in their legal careers but also to find passion along with equilibrium in their personal lives—a harmony that is often considered far-fetched in high-stakes environments

From my personal experience, having entered the legal profession when female mentorship was a rarity, I understand the impact such leadership could have had. Starting a law firm while seven months pregnant came with a medley of challenges, from battling inherent gender biases to managing the delicate interplay between professional ambitions and family responsibilities. These adversities, though stressful, equipped me with invaluable insights and a steely resolve.

Now, with a platform of my own, I choose to empower other women by sharing the insights learned firsthand, from many years of trial and tribulation. By being the mentor I once needed, I endeavor to nurture a more inclusive and supportive legal community. I firmly believe that when women leaders take an active role in mentoring, they not only strengthen individual careers but also contribute to reshaping the industry’s values towards a more equitable and supportive culture.

Coaching – Emily Golden, CEO & Strategic Talent Advisor, Golden Resources, LLC

Emily GoldenThe coaching approach to leadership is a particularly impactful leadership approach for women in business. It is the approach I predominantly use in my own business and the approach I coach my executive and mid-level leaders to adopt. The coaching approach to leadership focuses on guiding and developing others to reach their full potential rather than simply directing or instructing them on “how” to do it. In my experience, this approach comes more naturally to women, perhaps as a result of how women are raised in our culture.

Leaders who adopt a coaching approach support their team members to identify their strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, goals, and opportunities for growth. This approach is characterized by active listening, asking powerful questions, providing constructive feedback, and offering support and encouragement.

I am a big believer that when we are doing our own work, applying the coaching approach to leadership to how we are leading ourselves, we will show up as our most evolved selves and support our team members to do the same. This is what workplaces need now and in the future to thrive.


Unapologetic Confidence – Juliet Dreamhunter, Founder & AI Strategist, Juliety

Juliet Dreamhunter An unapologetic leadership style can be incredibly powerful for women in business. Too often, women feel pressure to soften their approach or downplay their ambition. An unapologetic style means owning your expertise, advocating for yourself, and refusing to shrink back to fit outdated expectations.

This doesn’t mean being aggressive—it’s about confidence and clarity. When women leaders are unapologetic about their goals and the value they bring, it creates a ripple effect. It sets a powerful example for other women and challenges those outdated stereotypes that can hold everyone back.

Transformational – Sarah Marie Naska, Founder, SMHavice Investments

Sarah Marie Naska As a female business leader, investor, and dedicated professional, I’ve found that adopting a transformational leadership style has been particularly impactful for women in business. This approach emphasizes fostering a supportive and empowering environment, where leaders inspire and motivate their team members to reach their full potential.

By prioritizing open communication, mentorship, and individualized attention, transformational leadership encourages collaboration, innovation, and personal growth within the organization. This style aligns well with the relational and empathetic strengths often associated with women leaders, enabling them to cultivate strong bonds with their team members and drive sustainable success in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Affiliative – Amy Tribe, Director, OGLF (Our Good Living Formula)

Amy TribeAffiliative Leadership is the modern, influential leadership style, particularly effective for women in business. It demonstrates confidence and empowerment in female leadership. The shift to remote work has allowed for more flexibility in personal presentation and leadership, reflecting changing mindsets and adaptations to the “new normal” in leadership approaches.

In my experience, leaders who embrace an affiliative style focus on fostering a sense of unity among their team members. Female managers who adopt this style prioritize establishing emotional connections with each employee. The belief is that team members who feel a strong bond with their colleagues are more motivated to excel. This approach to emotional connection is especially resonant for women, enabling us to build more intimate and cohesive teams as leaders.

Collaborative – Kristin Hintlian, Owner, Bonsai Builders

Women in BusinessIn my experience leading and co-owning Bonsai Builders, a construction firm, I’ve discovered that a collaborative leadership style is exceptionally impactful, especially for women in business. This approach hinges on open communication, shared objectives, and collective problem-solving, which are all values we prioritize in our company. For instance, we make it a point to involve our team and clients in decision-making processes, ensuring everyone feels heard and respected.

One specific example of this in action was during a challenging home renovation project. We faced unexpected structural issues that significantly altered the project’s scope and budget. Rather than making unilateral decisions, we held a series of discussions with our team and the clients. By openly discussing each other’s concerns and potential solutions, we ultimately devised a creative remodeling plan that met the clients’ needs without compromising on quality or escalating costs. This collaborative effort not only led to a successful project outcome but also strengthened our relationship with the client and crew, reinforcing the trust and respect that are critical to our business’ reputation.

What makes this leadership style so effective, in my opinion, is its focus on building and nurturing relationships. Whether it’s with employees, clients, or partners, adopting a collaborative approach fosters a sense of belonging and significance. It demonstrates a commitment to mutual success, rather than a singular focus on personal or immediate business gains.

In a field like construction, where projects can often become high-stress environments, maintaining open lines of communication and ensuring everyone is aligned and committed to a common goal can be the difference between a project’s failure and its success.

Democratic – Katrina Elbahey, CEO & Founder, Matchmaking Services

Women in BusinessOne leadership style that has demonstrated significant benefits for women within our Services company is the participative (or democratic) leadership style. This approach actively involves team members in the decision-making process, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability among everyone.

From my perspective, what makes participative leadership especially effective for women is its ability to create an environment of mutual respect and collaboration. It allows for diverse perspectives to be heard and valued, which is critical in a field as nuanced as matchmaking, where understanding different viewpoints and emotional dynamics can make all the difference in service delivery.

This style encourages women to speak up, share their insights, and contribute to the direction of projects and initiatives confidently. By promoting inclusivity and equal participation, it has helped to break down traditional hierarchies within our company, enabling women to shine as leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers. The result has been a more dynamic, creative, and cohesive team dynamic that directly benefits our clients and bolsters the overall success of our business.

Team-Focused – Loretta Kilday, DebtCC Spokesperson, Debt Consolidation Care

leadership stylesA team-focused way of leading has worked well for me as a woman in charge. People complete their best work through cooperation, not commands.

By trusting workers freely with responsibilities, their talents shine through. My experience also complements their efforts. Problems get solved smoothly together versus through confrontation.

An open-door policy invites empathy toward issues. I aim to address concerns through engaged discussion, not just orders alone. This fosters ownership over jobs through participation.

Valuing varied views counters biases trying to dismiss women leaders’ worth. By cultivating strengths through teamwork, careers succeed un-tied to unfair limits blocking success due to gender unfairly. Results prove steady through cooperation built on encouragement and hard work.

Different situations require adjusted styles. But an outward-looking approach unifies skilled, driven teams, enhancing options for all based on mutual respect over imposed management only. Positive environments let talents thrive where diverse strengths join forces.

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