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Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A.

Gabriela Cora M.D., M.B.A.

Alpha Females and Balanced Communications

Balancing Assertive and Aggressive Communications

The ability to confront or attack is a key leadership quality among many. While male leaders would be called aggressive only when they are about to strike someone in the face, female leaders are called aggressive when they are assertive: clear, direct, and no-nonsense.

Take industrialist Lynn Tilton, who measures every word in her interview addressing leadership as politically correct as possible.

Societal expectations that a woman should find consensus at all cost, be nice, and collegial, conflicts many women in the workplace. Wanting to be liked and be accepted by the group adds to the internal turmoil of being proactive when wanting a position while continuing to be perceived as a team-player.

These are some tips to help you express your leadership energy as you advance in your career:

  1. Know what you want and ask for it. Many believe that the boss will select you because you are the best. The truth is people who advance usually express their desire to be considered and are very upfront about it.
  2. Tell the world what you want: Don't keep it a secret. Sure, someone else may try to gain the position via political strategy. It would surprise you to see how many around you are rooting for you and on your side.
  3. Be direct in your communications: speak in headlines. Elaborate when prompted for more information. Women tend to use more words than men and to justify their position when they don't need to.
  4. Stop apologizing: while a heartfelt apology is a sign of true power, apologizing for just being there or for asking for more is a sign of weakness. Ask what you want and don't say anything else, you don't need to explain why.
  5. Control your emotions. Unfortunately, many women leaders are perceived as highly emotional or unstable. Although many men fall in this category, their intensity is usually expressed with overt anger or aggression. Become fully aware of how you feel while you focus on the task in front of you.
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About the Author

Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A.

Gabriela Cora, M.D., M.B.A., hosts Dr. Gaby's Take: Make Life Interesting. She’s a medical doctor with a master's in business administration.