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The Damaging Impact Of Emulating Masculine Traits On Female Leaders

Written by: Keely Woolley, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


When it comes to female executives and leaders in a corporate environment, there is a common misconception that they must emulate their male counterparts in order to succeed.

This belief stems from the false assumption that men are inherently more successful in the corporate world, and that women must therefore emulate their male counterparts in order to achieve the same level of success.

The Damaging Impact of Emulating Masculine Traits on Female Leaders

However, this mindset is damaging not only because it reinforces gender stereotypes, but also because it discounts the unique qualities and strengths that female leaders bring to the table.

Moreover, trying to emulate masculine traits and behaviours can have a detrimental impact on the mental and physical health and well-being of female leaders, because they are not being their authentic self. When they try to fit a certain mould and place unrealistic expectations on themselves, it can lead to an increased likelihood of sleepless nights, depression, headaches, brain-fog, rashes, fatigue and irritability. Resulting in feelings of stress, anxiety and spiralling further into burn-out. These negative impacts ultimately inhibit their professional growth and development, and create feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.

Ironically, trying to be like men is the opposite of what female leaders should be doing. Women are naturally adept at problem-solving, emotional intelligence, communication, inspiring others, taking initiative, getting things done, and demonstrating adaptability and agility to have multiple activities running at the same time, – all of which are essential skills for success in a corporate environment.

Furthermore, an additional factor for why women may not be as successful in a corporate world is a lack of confidence.

10 Key Reasons that may contribute to a Lack of Confidence

  1. Negative self-talk: Women in leadership roles may have been more susceptible to negative self-talk, due to societal expectations and biases towards women in leadership.

  2. Past failures: Female executives may have faced additional scrutiny and pressure due to gender stereotypes, making past failures more impactful on their confidence.

  3. Comparing oneself to others: Women in leadership positions may have felt more pressure to compare themselves to others in order to prove their worth and legitimacy in a male-dominated industry.

  4. Lack of experience: Women in leadership may have faced more barriers to gain experience and expertise in certain fields due to gender bias and discrimination.

  5. Fear of failure: Women in leadership positions may face more scrutiny and backlash if they fail, leading to increased fear and self-doubt.

  6. Rejection or criticism: Women in leadership positions may have experienced more criticism and rejection due to gender stereotypes and biases.

  7. Perfectionism: Women in leadership roles may have felt increased pressure to be perfect in order to combat stereotypes and prove themselves, leading to impossibly high standards and a lack of confidence.

  8. Lack of support: Women in leadership positions may have faced a lack of support from colleagues and superiors due to gender bias and discrimination.

  9. Personal appearance: Women in leadership positions may have faced additional pressure to conform to societal beauty standards, leading to negative self-image and a lack of confidence.

  10. Imposter syndrome: Women in leadership positions may be more susceptible to imposter syndrome, due to societal stereotypes and biases that women are less competent or qualified, than men in leadership roles.

It is important to recognise that the reasons given for our lack of confidence compared to our male counterparts, may derive from our own programmed beliefs, and may not be an accurate picture within some organisations. Ultimately, our environment from an early age can influence the impact on our patterns of behaviour, our perceptions of what we think others believe and our response, or dare I say, reaction to them.

Unlocking Your Potential: 10 Steps to Build Confidence and Achieve Success as a Female Leader

  1. Challenge negative self-talk: To challenge this negative self-talk, female leaders can remind themselves of their strengths and accomplishments, and seek out positive role models and mentors, and surround themselves with supportive and uplifting individuals.

  2. Focus on past successes: To build confidence, it can be helpful for female leaders to reflect on past successes and accomplishments and remind themselves of their capabilities and achievements.

  3. Set achievable goals: To build confidence, female leaders can set achievable goals that align with their strengths and passions and celebrate progress along the way.

  4. Learn new skills: To build confidence, female leaders can invest time and effort into learning new skills or improving existing ones, and seek out opportunities for training and development.

  5. Take calculated risks: Taking calculated risks can help female leaders to overcome fears and build confidence, leading to new opportunities and growth.

  6. Seek feedback: Seeking feedback from trusted friends, colleagues, and mentors can provide valuable insight and reassurance, helping female leaders to build confidence and grow.

  7. Practice self-care: Practicing self-care, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques, can help female leaders to maintain their physical and emotional well-being and build resilience.

  8. Surround oneself with supportive people: Surrounding oneself with supportive and positive people who uplift and encourage can provide valuable support and motivation, helping female leaders to build confidence and achieve success.

  9. Visualise success: Using visualisation techniques to mentally rehearse success can help women to build confidence and overcome self-doubt, leading to increased motivation and goal attainment.

  10. Practice self-compassion: Practicing self-compassion, such as treating oneself with kindness and understanding, can help women to build confidence and maintain a positive self-image.

So what should you be doing instead?

Rather than trying to be someone you are not, female executives and leaders, should recognise their own true value, unique viewpoints and show more confidence and belief in their ability to lead. Research suggests that companies with more female executives, leaders tend to have higher returns, and that female leadership can be a source of innovation and growth. Research: Women Are Better Leaders During a Crisis (

Furthermore, by building confidence, female executives and leaders can overcome self-doubt and achieve success on their own terms, leveraging their unique skills and experiences. Whilst, being open to learn from their male counterparts. A good example of this is taking more risks. According to KPMG – KPMG_Womens_Leadership_Study.pdf, by taking more risks, they have a higher likelihood of success.

Embrace your Leadership Style, Authenticity and Leverage your Unique Qualities

Remember, you have got to where you are because of your unique skills and capabilities. By embracing your leadership style and building confidence, female leaders can make a positive impact on their organisations and create a more inclusive, nurturing, and empowered corporate environment.

Conclusion: From Doubt to Confidence – A Guide for Female Executives and Leaders in Corporate Environments

In conclusion, the key to success for female leaders in corporate environments is not to emulate men and to embrace authenticity, leverage unique qualities, and build confidence. By taking steps to overcome self-doubt and build confidence, female executive and leaders can unlock their full potential and make a positive impact on their organisations.

If you want to take a deep-dive on this topic and discover further tools, techniques and strategies to prevent or BounceBack from Burn-out, without Compromising your Dreams or Career, then register to join my free FB Group for Female Executives, Leaders and Entrepreneurs: BounceBack from Burnout

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Keely Woolley, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Keely Woolley, is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Mentor, helping Female Executives, Leaders and Entrepreneurs to bounce back from Burnout, without Compromising their Dreams or Career. She achieves these results, through her "Freedom Transformation Formula", Platimum Online Programme. Keely honed & refined strategies, tools & techniques, following her own personal journey of discovery, and bounce back from full burnout, in early 2020, and her experience over 25 years, as an Executive Coach, Trainer and Mentor within a Global Corporate Environment. She now has a mission to see the light shine in at least one person's eyes every day, when they have their Eureka moment and turn their WHY, into reality.



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