Kelly McNelis, the founder of Women for One, a global community of women, is a leader in her own right, working to empower the women in her life through a digital storytelling platform. “I have discovered that, as women, we are empowered to step into our leadership when we have supportive communities that help us move toward our visions and what we are capable of.” According to McNelis, it takes just three words to help someone find their potential: “I see you,” she says.
This acknowledgment is crucial to empowering women to follow a path of leadership. The facts are that women account for only about 26% of executive and senior-level managers and comprise just over 5% of CEOs in the S&P 500, despite making up nearly 45% of total employees. Closing this leadership gap starts with support and knowledge. In order to be a great leader, you must learn from the best and understand your own managerial tendencies. Some leaders are collaborative team players, while others choose to inspire by example. No strategy is better than another, but understanding your own strengths and personality will give you the confidence needed to take on the job. Curious what it takes to be a leader? Study up on these types of leadership, and tell a co-worker that you see her.
The Democratic Leader
What It Takes: “This kind of leader really values the insight, expertise, and lived experiences of her team,” says McNelis. Someone with this approach to leadership is able to see the bigger picture and rely on others when it comes to making decisions. They truly embrace the feedback of others.
“This is someone who is very much about communication, conversation, and hashing out all the little details until everyone can reach consensus.” If you want to earn the trust of your employees and create an environment where everyone’s opinions are heard, this is one type of leadership you might consider.
Your Inspiration: Arianna Huffington, Oprah, and Sheryl Sandberg
The Transformational Leader
What It Takes: “A transformational leader is the kind of leader who works with her team to create inspiring visions and the momentum that is necessary to step into them,” explains McNelis. If you aim to inspire through your own example, you may fit this leadership type.
“They give workers autonomy over specific projects, as well as the authority to make decisions once they have been trained,” McNelis continues. The transformational leader not only understands the strengths and weakness of their team members but embraces them. This helps you work with individual personalities and boost morale, according to McNelis.
Your Inspiration: Tyra Banks, Coco Chanel, Margaret Thatcher
The Feminine Leadership
What It Takes: Being a feminine leader has nothing to do with gender, McNelis explains. It’s simply a descriptor for someone who recognizes the importance of collaboration, connection, and community—the three C’s as McNelis calls them. “A feminine leader honors herself and the people around her. She knows when to step up and assert herself and when to step back and let different people shine,” says McNelis.
If you let your values and integrity lead you and value relationships above all else, you may be a feminine leader. “This is a type of leadership that has room for all kinds of personality traits, but most of all, it’s about trusting the process even when it is messy and nonlinear,” she says.
Your Inspiration: Carolyn McCall, Cindy Whitehead, and Nina Simons