Help us help small businesses. Become a small business champion. Learn more

I am a trial-and-error type person, I like to give things a shot and see what works.

Right after college, I was working as a bartender and wanted to get myself into a management position. Eventually, I was given an opportunity to elevate my career. At that time, most of the managers I had ever had were men. The managerial styles and techniques I observed from men where either very headstrong, stern, and unquestioning of authority OR so laid back and jovial with a “one of the guys” attitude. Knowing I couldn’t be the latter – I tried to be the former. I managed – with absolutism and authority.

I felt I needed to command respect and wanted to be respected as an authority. I had insecurities when it came to my ability to be an effective leader. The results were me turning into something I wasn’t. I failed to become the strong managers I was surrounded by, because I was not effective. After about six months in my new managerial position, I received a slew of anonymous feedback from the staff. I went in with the confidence that they would see me as a strong leader, assertive, and confident, like they did with the men in my role. Instead they saw me as bossy, had a bad attitude, egotistical, and stubborn. They thought I wouldn’t listen and uncompassionate about their needs…. And in all honesty, they probably weren’t wrong.

What had happened?

I didn’t want to be perceived this way. I cared about all these people – they were my friends. I wanted to be a respected, strong leader, but in the end I was seen as an incompetent authoritarian who served their own interests before considering others.

I had trained with another manager at the same time – a man. We went through the same experience, and worked in a very similar fashion. He was floating through his managerial life with ease. The staff respected and felt empowered by his strong presence, but with me they felt steamrolled.

At first, I blamed them. They didn’t respect me the way a manager should be respected. But, then I decided to take their feedback to heart. I couldn’t blame them. The only person I could blame was myself. I wasn’t being true to who I was, so I couldn’t lead them honestly. Other managers told me if I was genuine, the staff would respect me more. I thought that would make me seem weak, but inevitably I was wrong.

As a woman, it’s often hard to find strong leaders to emulate, because so many examples are traditionally men. While I don’t think men are bad examples of leaders, they don’t go through the same struggles as women. For one reason or another, the actions of men are perceived differently in our culture than the actions of women. Hillary Clinton has spoken about this very idea when discussing the prospect of becoming president.

I’m not Barack Obama. I’m not Bill Clinton. Both of them carry themselves with a naturalness that is very appealing to audiences. But I’m married to one and I’ve worked for the other, so I know how hard they work at being natural. It’s not something they just dial in. They work and they practice what they’re going to say. It’s not that they’re trying to be somebody else. But it’s hard work to present yourself in the best possible way. You have to communicate in a way that people say: ‘OK, I get her.’ And that can be more difficult for a woman. Because who are your models? If you want to run for the Senate, or run for the Presidency, most of your role models are going to be men. And what works for them won’t work for you. Women are seen through a different lens. It’s not bad. It’s just a fact. It’s really quite funny. I’ll go to these events and there will be men speaking before me, and they’ll be pounding the message, and screaming about how we need to win the election. And people will love it. And I want to do the same thing. Because I care about this stuff. But I’ve learned that I can’t be quite so passionate in my presentation. I love to wave my arms, but apparently that’s a little bit scary to people. And I can’t yell too much. It comes across as ‘too loud’ or ‘too shrill’ or ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’ Which is funny, because I’m always convinced that the people in the front row are loving it.” – Hillary Clinton

In the end, I found my voice and am proud to say I have continued to progress in leadership roles. Currently, I lead a team of very competent and incredible people – both men and women. I am more honest and transparent with them then I have ever been before. I am much happier being myself, than trying to be someone I’m not. They say fake it ‘til you make it. But, I think it’s much better to just be who are you with whatever you got inside, because that’s all you’re ever going to need.

– Nicole Davenport Manager of Sales Training at Gravity Payments

 

[gravityform id="37" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_37' ><div id='gf_37' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_37' id='gform_37' action='/blog/women-leadership-part-two-works-man-will-work-woman/#gf_37'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_37' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_37_1' class='gfield gf_left_half gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_1' >First Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_1' id='input_37_1' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='First Name*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_37_2' class='gfield gf_right_half gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_2' >Last Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_2' id='input_37_2' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Last Name*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_37_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_3' >Email<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_37_3' type='email' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Email*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id='field_37_9' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_9' >Phone</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_phone'><input name='input_9' id='input_37_9' type='tel' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Phone Number' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_37_4' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_4' >Business Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_37_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Business Name*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_37_7' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_7' id='input_37_7' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='Gravity Website' /></li><li id='field_37_8' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_8' id='input_37_8' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='' /></li><li id='field_37_13' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_13' id='input_37_13' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='' /></li><li id='field_37_12' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_12' id='input_37_12' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='' /></li><li id='field_37_11' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_11' id='input_37_11' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='' /></li><li id='field_37_10' class='gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><input name='input_10' id='input_37_10' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='' /></li><li id='field_37_14' class='gfield mixpanel-id field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_14' >Mixpanel ID</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_14' id='input_37_14' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_37_15' class='gfield gf-post-slug field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_37_15' >Post Slug (js)</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_15' id='input_37_15' type='text' value='' class='medium' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_37' class='gform_button button' value='Submit' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_37"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_37")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_37")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_37"]=true;} ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_37"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_37")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_37")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_37"]=true;} jQuery("#gform_37").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=37&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_37' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='37' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_37' value='WyJbXSIsIjFkZWJiYTQzOTc0NWE5NmY1ODc3NTgwMWVlMTJhNGM1Il0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_37' id='gform_target_page_number_37' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_37' id='gform_source_page_number_37' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_37' id='gform_ajax_frame_37' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 37, 'https://gravitypayments.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_37').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_37');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_37').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_37').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_37').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_37').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_37').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_37').val();gformInitSpinner( 37, 'https://gravitypayments.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [37, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_37'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_37').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_37').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [37]);window['gf_submitting_37'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_37').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [37, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 37) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }jQuery('#input_37_9').mask('(999) 999-9999').bind('keypress', function(e){if(e.which == 13){jQuery(this).blur();} } );} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [37, 1]) } ); </script>