Challenges women leaders face

22 Common Challenges New Female Leaders Face

May 23, 2023

I'm Jenna


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If you find yourself struggling to adjust to your new leadership position, and think you are alone, think again. Below are 22 common challenges women in new leadership positions face.

Women Executive at Work
Leadership is challenging, especially in the beginning

Common Challenges Women in New Leadership Positions Face

Imposter Syndrome

People Pleasing (because, afterall, we all want to be liked)

Doing too much, or not delegating tasks to others

Insecurity or lacking confidence. According to Forbes one of the biggest challenges females in leadership face is confidence.

Perfectionism and beating yourself up when you make mistakes

Unclear communication (because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings)

Not establishing boundaries

Not correcting bad behavior early

Second guessing (and third guessing) yourself when making decisions, or when people don’t agree with you

Holding back meaningful input

Taking the advice of others instead of trusting yourself

Not believing who people are the first time they show you

Not giving constructive criticism for fear of making people mad, hurting their feelings, or fearing they won’t like you

Judging yourself too harshly when you make a mistake

Compromising or not being firm, when you are in the right, or you have made your decision

Succumbing to guilt trips, crying, anger, whining, bitching, complaining, shit-talking, back-stabbing and every other manipulation tactic in the book. (Sorry- just keeping it real)

Shrinking when you should be standing tall

Not taking credit for your accomplishments and your wins

Taking on more responsibilities or projects when you do not have the capacity to take on more

Not asking for input or help because you feel you should have it all figured out

Relying too much on others opinions when making decisions

Oversharing, over-explaining, or simply saying too much

Sound Familiar?

I share these, not because I have some brilliant “fix-all’s” for y’all, but because I have been there or have watched this behavior in colleagues and new managers. The fact is, leadership is hard and it takes time to get your feet under you and trust yourself. My hope is that this encourages you to continue on your journey. Don’t give up on yourself. Extend yourself some grace and allow yourself to be a beginner.

Tips for New Leaders

Find a mentor, or a trusted colleague to bounce ideas off of. Ever notice how much easier it is to see solutions to someone else’s problems than your own? It should go without saying that this is not a subordinate or someone below your “rank” so to speak. If you are an executive, this should be someone who is executive level. These conversations will be sensitive and confidential. Choose accordingly.

New female leader seeking advice from a trusted colleague or mentor
Find a trusted colleague or a mentor

FInd a leader you admire and emulate them.

Consider hiring a leadership coach or attending a leadership class or seminar. Many community colleges offer one day courses and there are numerous online options.

When you have to have difficult conversations, find a trusted colleague to role play or practice the conversation beforehand. This can be hugely beneficial in helping you feel prepared and for anticipating their response.

Remember the old “fake it till you make it?” Sometimes there is wisdom in that. Now, two disclaimers here: One, ask for help when you need it or don’t know something, and two, NEVER spend money you do not have. Period. (Sorry-Financial Coach here and trust me, your future self will thank you). That said, save money or budget for some clothes or outfits that make you feel confident! Please do not confuse this with “expensive”. They don’t need to be. You just need to feel like a million bucks when your wearing it. Pay attention to what you are wearing and how you are feeling on days when you feel the most confident and replicate it.

New female leader in a confidence boosting outfit
Make room in your budget for several outfits that boost your confidence.

Build a team that you trust. I cannot overstate the importance of this. You and your projects are the product of the people on your team. The success and failures you will experience are largely due to the people on your team. Building a solid team takes time. Do not settle when hiring new staff. Put the right people in the right places.

As a follow-up to the last point, address the people on your team who are “drilling holes in your boat” or “rowing in the opposite direction”. We all know who these people are. The unhappy, miserable, think you are incompetent and they could do it better, and can’t wait to tell everyone else all about it people on your team. Yes- every team has them. No, you are not unique in that regard.

People on your team will leave their position. Do not internalize this and do not be held hostage to fear of this happening. People leave jobs.

GIve an abundance of thanks and praise when a member of your team goes above and beyond, you are going through hard things, have difficult projects or deadlines, or just to let them know you you see them and are grateful for them!

Give credit where credit is due. Never take credit for someone else’s ideas or work.

Be a good human. Care for your staff. Treat them with courtesy and respect. Give them grace.

Be fierce when you need to be. I hope these instances are rare, but they will happen.

Know where your boundaries are and stick to them.

Allow yourself (and members of your team) to be a beginner.

Be humble. Apologize when you are wrong and admit when you make a mistake, because trust me, you will. It also sets the example that we are human and we are allowed to make mistakes. It is how you handle it that makes the difference. Do not make excuses and do not blame others. Simply own it, correct it, learn from it, and move on.

Don’t be afraid to ask your team for help. They are the expert in their respective position. Asking for their input shows you value them, it can help them buy-in to new projects and changes, and it can boost their confidence and overall morale.

Show yourself kindness and grace. Show up every day and do the best you can. If you did that, you did all that you could.

To all of the girls who are showing up everyday, and killing it, I’m cheering you on. You’ve totally got this! You did not get this position by accident.

xo Jenna

Jenna Dowell

Explore more categories:  Leadership, Uncategorized

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I'm Jenna

Executive, entrepreneur, floral designer, RN, Master Financial Coach, and the owner of Elevations. Good coffee and adventures in wild places with my hubby and two dogs fuel my soul.


Financial Coaching

Elope, Yellowstone!

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Health & Wellness

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Visit Steamboat Springs on a Budget


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