In the beginning of my career, women were far outnumbered by men in the company for which I worked, both in entry-level positions and especially in management. Perhaps as a way to seek approval by their male counterparts, or perhaps because they were modeling the behavior of the all-male senior management team, many of the few female managers acted man-like in their leadership approach. This always felt disingenuous to me. They seemed like completely different people one on one in casual conversation than they did when they were acting like business leaders.
People with any amount of emotional intelligence can see right through a manager who is “acting.” Great leaders don’t “act” like what they think others want to see. They lead authentically by acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses and connecting whole-heartedly with those they lead. When a leader becomes comfortable in their own skin and can lead from a place of true authenticity, people want to follow – regardless of differences like gender or background.