May 19, 2021

Common Pitfalls for Women Leaders

Common Pitfalls for Women Leaders

On this episode, Barbara Annis and host Paul Colligan discuss the some of the biggest challenges facing women in leadership positions. The pitfalls, identified through a survey of 2,000 women leaders, were based on two simple questions. What pitfalls...


On this episode, Barbara Annis and host Paul Colligan discuss the some of the biggest challenges facing women in leadership positions. The pitfalls, identified through a survey of 2,000 women leaders, were based on two simple questions. What pitfalls they worked to avoid in their careers, and what pitfalls they may have fallen into. 

7 Common Themes Were Identified

Barbara says the results showed that, no matter where these women leaders lived, or what their career focus was, the same themes just kept popping up, again and again. 

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Barbara and Paul discussed the themes and how they impact women in leadership positions. The top 7 pitfalls are:

  • Making Bold Requests
  • Self-Promotion
  • Being Hard On Themselves
  • The Loyalty Trap
  • Assigned to Grunt Work
  • Networking
  • Negotiations

Barbara shared a story about a group of male and female executives were all in the running for the CEO role at a company in Silicon Valley. She described a key gender difference that led to one of the male executives landing the position, in sharp contrast with the approach of his female counterparts.

Barbara also reflected on the differences between men and women in terms of networking. Barbara says she’s convinced it all comes down to being strategic in one’s approach.

Paul suggested that organizations could benefit by making sure male employees also understand these pitfalls for women. He believes this mutual insight into gender differences would allow men and women to worth together to overcome each of their pitfalls, allowing them to build on each other’s strengths. Barbara agreed and describing how some of her corporate clients came to that same conclusion. She believes this kind of acknowledgement and understanding of gender differences and the pitfalls of both men and women should begin in high school or earlier.

Barbara told the story of a young female engineer who reached out to her after the engineer had hired a highly successful male career coach, only to discover that he constantly made her cry. In his mind, his confrontation style would motivate her, but instead it made her feel less confident. The female engineer later discovered that she was the first women he had ever coached. Barbara convinced her to fire the coach, and she recommended finding a new one who ‘had her back,’ and used a more positive approach in coaching.

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