Do you ever feel pressure from yourself or others to get it all done? We all have a laundry list of tasks we’re responsible for making sure happen, and it can all feel like way too much some days.
In this episode, we will discuss a topic that we know you all can relate to. Based on feedback in our Christian Woman Leadership Facebook group as well as feedback from some of our past episodes that have hit on this, we know that this is something that you all feel…. Pressure. Specifically as a female leader.
There are sometimes pressures we experience that our male counterparts might not. This is by no means a male-bashing discussion but simply will share some insight, tips, and tools for how to navigate and deal with the pressures of leading as a female.
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Here is a list of pressures you might be experiencing as a woman:
- If you’ve got kids, the pressure of parenting + leading
- Pressure to look or dress a certain way
- Pressure to speak up or stay quiet
- Pressure to take on more and more responsibility
- Pressure to succeed at work and/or business
- Pressure to keep your house looking good
- Pressure to be the ultimate hostess
Other times we have pressures that are based on the environment or the organizations or the culture we are part of.
So, we’re not going to try and parse out which pressures come from internal vs. external struggles, nor are we going to try and solve the problem of those pressures today.
Instead, what we want to do is just share some of the ways we have personally dealt with the pressures and the challenges of being a strong female leader.
As we say in MANY of our episodes, we have not totally figured this out. In many ways, we still wrestle with this one, because every leadership role brings new challenges and potential pressures.
We hope that a few of these things we share will just be practical tips that might help you personally, so as always, take what you like and leave the rest!
Discernment is a skill you have to hone, and is overarching and foundational to the rest of the tips that will follow. Learning discernment and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit when he’s leading you to do certain things is a muscle you have to work in order to become fluent in it.
2: Setting Boundaries and Saying ‘No’
Saying no to things can be really hard. When you’re feeling the pressure of life, and when there’s crisis, or when there are high expectations, sometimes we have to decide what are we going to say no to right now. We also have to decide how we are going to give ourselves that capacity back in order to function at the level that we need to function.
3: Having a Habit, Schedule, or Routine
Blog Post: Why Habits Matter in a Leader’s Life
Having a routine and a schedule can truly makes things easier in your life, especially when you’re overwhelmed or when you’re in a crisis mode. What having a schedule or routine does is that it lowers decision fatigue.
4: Ask For What You Need
Make sure that you speak up and you don’t wait for things to come to you. Even though it can feel easier for some people to suffer in silence, when we suffer in silence and isolate ourselves and don’t ask for help, and when we don’t put ourselves out there and tell people what we need, they can’t help.
5: Learn to Reflect and Reset
There are times in our lives when we just have to have a reset on what life looks like. The best way to do that is if you reflect first on what’s working, and what’s not working. When you take that time to think about what’s working and what’s not working, then you can intentionally look at how you might want to try and move forward. This might include using discernment and choosing what to say no to right now.
6: Learn to Be Okay with Silence
Episode 191 (small groups)
Episode 164 (bringing feedback)
Episode 104 (responding to crisis)
Learning to be okay with silence by yourself is one aspect of this that can be hard for so many of us. Sometimes, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you’re feeling pressure, you just need to sit and listen and be quiet, and not have any input from things like podcasts, music, books, etc.
Another way we need to learn to be okay with silence is with other people. Sometimes we feel the pressure to say something in a meeting, to come up with the right answer to a boss, or have the right response to a crisis that’s happening in the world that we feel that we need to come up with what to say on social media. We need to be okay with taking a moment to breathe before saying things, or feeling the freedom not to say anything at all.
When you’re in either a crisis or a difficult situation that’s highly emotional, it’s even more important to be okay with silence.
7: Figure Out What Rest Actually Means to You, and then Do It.
What we need to figure out is what is actually restorative. We need to reflect and decide what is regenerating, and what kind of rejuvenation we need in the moment. Ask yourself, ‘What sort of thing is going to bring me joy and health and wellness?
Having someone you can check in with and bounce ideas for reassessment off of is so valuable. These are people that have done that reassessment for themselves. These people likely have the wisdom and discernment from their own past experiences. Watching someone else discern a situation is also incredibly valuable. There is so much that can be gleaned from mentorship.
Leading as a female with males, sometimes you need to have another female leader to bounce things off of because it’s really hard sometimes to figure out when you should say things and when you shouldn’t say things, and it is helpful to have an older female to help you navigate those places.
9: Create a Support Network
Invest in friendships! When you are going through a tough season or a challenging time, and you are feeling the pressure,or feeling a lot of stress, the power of having a network of friends, and a network of people that can support you is so important.
We can think that we don’t have time for friendships, but that could not be further from the truth. We need friends. It’s worth it if you can invest even in a few people, because in the long run, they’re going to be there for you when you need it. But you can’t just expect it to come to you. You also have to be willing to go out, do the work, invest in other people, and be a support to other people.
It’s also essential to have a support network in a professional sense with peers within your industry or colleagues in your job. You can bounce ideas off of these people, or reach out when you’re stressed. Our ‘biz besties’ can offer guidance and support in so many ways.
10: Be Teachable
Always be learning and stay humble. In each episode, we talk about how leaders are learners, and it is so important to continue this lifelong learning mindset for ourselves. If we stay humble, look for the lessons in an experience, and look for how we can change, learn, and grow, it’s going to make it a lot easier next time we have a similar situation come up again.
From a business perspective, sometimes we need to level up by learning something new and push our skills to the next level. Pushing ourselves to learn the next thing can sometimes actually give us the breathing room that we need to move forward. From a business perspective, being teachable and always learning sometimes helps you level up and relieve the pressure that you are feeling. Always be willing to acknowledge when you make a mistake, and learn from that as well.
11: Make Room For Creativity and Vision
There are some people who are scared by the words creativity and vision, but it is important to have the space to dream and think in your day to day life. Of course, tasks have to get done, but allowing space for yourself to creativity and vision can be a refreshing change to your leadership.
Remembering what you like to do is a great way to create something and do something with your hands.
12: Let Go of Expectations
Give yourself grace! Whether it’s your own expectations or expectations from others, it’s okay to just let go of them. Others are usually not nearly as hard on us as we are on ourselves, so let go of the expectations that we sometimes unfairly place on ourselves. Even if some of these expectations are real from other people, it does not mean that they are necessarily expectations that you have to live up to.
Let go of some of those expectations and pressures that you’re putting on yourself because you need to take care of yourself and let yourself have a season where you are resting when you need it. Examine some of the assumptions you’ve made about yourself, and give yourself the room and the grace to pull off those expectations when it’s important.
Quotes to Note:
“When you’re on autopilot to some extent within your schedule and within your habits, it really does free up your brain to process the things you need to.” – Holly Cain
“Sitting and being quiet and not doing anything can be very hard, but that is some of the moments where God has spoken to me- when I am just being quiet.” – Esther Littlefield
“When emotions are running high, and the pressure is felt, you have to have a really high level of maturity to come out of that without burning bridges and without hurting people. And so it’s really okay to get the silence that you need to be able to respond well.” – Holly Cain
“One of the greatest characteristics of a leader is being teachable and self-aware, and knowing what we need to really work on, what we’re good at, and also what we’re bad at.” – Holly Cain
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