Women Leading the Way
Not only are women capable of becoming successful professionals, but they often make the best leaders. There have been several leaders within the public relations industry that have paved the way and ignited the future for women practicing PR today. For example, Betsy Plank was the first female president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and advocated for the education of PR students. Another trailblazer in PR was Marilyn Laurie who became the first female chief communications officer at a Fortune 10 company, AT&T.
Both of these women helped pave the way for all female PR professionals and have given aspiring leaders examples to learn from. These powerhouses have a long list of qualities that differentiate them among most professionals, but there are three shared values among them that demonstrate what all women can and should add to a work environment: collaboration, soft skills and confidence.
Collaboration between coworkers, clients and other publics is key for any PR professional to be successful. It can be easy for leaders to lose track of the value in true collaboration. Leaders can easily experience tunnel vision and only focus on their team hitting deadlines or ensuring their managerial tasks are completed. However, the greatest leaders are ones that work alongside their colleagues.
The biggest tool to increase collaboration is communication. Communicating the overall goals and objectives of a group or project allows everyone to understand their role and how to help one another. Women are often thought of as great communicators. Many female leaders are able to use their communication skills to engage in meaningful, productive conversations with their teams. These conversations spark collaboration and bring team members together.
Soft skills are synonymous with emotional intelligence. Characteristics of soft skills or emotional intelligence include conflict management, collaboration, emotional self-awareness, empathy and flexibility. These types of characteristics help any professional become a successful leader. In fact, CEO’s consistently rate soft skills as one of the most valued professional characteristics.
Women have an advantage by naturally possessing many of these traits. It ultimately comes down to them owning these characteristics and capitalizing on them. Owning these soft skills and using them in any leadership role will allow women to make a greater impact in their organizations. Women are and can be the best leaders because their emotional intelligence allows them to connect, understand and relate to their coworkers.
Arguably one of the most important traits a leader can possess is confidence, especially female leaders. Female leaders have to work past gender norms and inequity in the workplace. Women in this position should be proud that they are furthering workplace culture and inspiring the next generation of female leaders. Having a quiet confidence allows women to own their identity and unique ability to lead an organization. Women are and will continue to be successful leaders by confidently resting on their ability to be a successful leader and professional.
Confidence is also contagious. Being a confident female leader will greatly impact all those they work with. Confidence starts within so start with becoming more confident in your capabilities then begin instilling confidence in your team members. Any organization or team needs a leader that is confident in their entire group to successfully meet their goals while growing exponentially. Female leaders can instill this confidence through their communication and soft skills.
Any leader should have these qualities, but as women, they are often innate in us. This works to the advantage of many female professionals. Tapping into these qualities will help female leaders unlock their full potential. Ultimately, it is important for women to embrace these qualities within themselves, and utilize them to lead their organizations to new heights and continue to advance the PR industry.
Hannah Rady is a senior at Anderson University majoring in public relations and minoring in sports marketing. Hannah is the student manager with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University while also serving as vice president of the campus PRSSA chapter.