Being a Woman in leadership: How to Change the Narrative

Being a ‘Woman in Leadership’ comes with certain not so pretty narratives. I remember listening to Mrs Ifenyiwa Afe’s story, a recently appointed managing director.

She was accompanied by some male staff on a scheduled trip to meet another male executive in the industry. As they met the executive, he immediately walked over to the male staff assuming the ‘Managing Director’ was a man.

The embarrassed staff immediately corrected the shocked executive. Imagine the awkward moment!

These are relatable workplace realities, that spring from a culture that limits the capabilities of women. I look forward to a society that’s where women in leadership are expected and supported. However, the part that women have to play in driving home this new narrative; is owning it.

I have a critical role to play in owning the new narrative myself. I am General Manager at African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO). Sometimes, it is possible to slip into these limitations by the society. But being conscious of who you are, and not cautious is a huge step in changing the narrative.

Here are a few tips:

Be Assertive

One of my friends used the phrase; “He was expecting me to be docile” to imply that a male colleague hadn’t expected her to communicate assertively.

Being assertive is an attitude, and it doesn’t mean domineering. It is portraying confidence, and presence and very essential in leadership. As women in leadership, being feminine does not mean not being assertive.

Be Professional

It is so easy to cross the line of professionalism with women. I was in a skype meeting with some male colleagues and I was the only female. With a switched off camera, the convener kept referring to me as male. 

He made the move to apologize as soon as the impression was corrected. Do you know what he did? He waves a teddy bear in a gesture of apology!

People expect that women are meant to be cuddled. Though we may be in certain scenarios, women are also logical beings. Do not compromise ethics for sentiments in the workplace. Women must insist on this.

Set Healthy Boundaries

I offer to shake hands with a male colleague one day, and he was already gesturing to hug me. What! A male colleague should be able to shake hands with you just as he would a male colleague. That’s not to say that work friendships cannot exist, but let that be clear.

Are you cool being identified as dears? Many times, as females we tend to be susceptible.

However, you can stay true to your values and communicate as opposed to getting warped in the idiosyncrasies of being female.

Focus on your superpowers

Being part of a movement that says; ‘beauty lies in the heart of the possessor’ has been much more empowering. It doesn’t just focus on men’s role in helping or stopping us from attaining our full potential as women.

Being a by-product of the mission of AWLO has influenced a developmental process that is centered on me.

It is true that beauty lies first in the heart of the possessor. It’s about being our own super-heroes first, and concentrating on our superpowers. This does not negate the fact that people may or may not contribute to gender issues.

Finally, it feels much more empowering to have great self-talk, self-belief, and self-love, rather than getting caught up in a battle of genders.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

5 Things a Motherland Mogul Leader is Not

Leadership is an art. It means taking courage to maneuver a group of people with common intentions, goals, and objectives in an organized manner. Not everyone can be a good leader! 

Of course, you have to bear in mind your follower’s individual strengths and weaknesses while walking on eggshells trying not to annoy this group of people – even when they throw their frustrations and aggression at you!

With all these pressures, leaders quite often fall into bad habits as they struggle to achieve their goals. To avoid this, as a Motherland Mogul and leader, you are probably asking, what is a leader not?


There is a wide difference between being a boss and being bossy. A bossy person is a maniac! They operate like a machine put in place to juice their subjects in order to extract what they want for the company.

A great leader is none of these. They are diplomatic and understand that more is given willingly than forcibly.  A good leader is compassionate. They do not exclude others from contributing their part towards the common goal.


Yes. We all have that cousin or friend that we think would be the best at this job. But what would your followers think if this was the case? Would they be committed to your family company?

It is very sad that nobody nowadays values meritocracy. Leaders give more attention to those who massage their ego, than those who tell them like it is.

However, true leadership requires building the right team that will challenge you and helps you grow your organization.

A jolly old person

The truth is, great leaders do not try to keep friendships with others by satisfying their needs at the expense of their followers and the common purpose. When you start pleasing everyone, you start compromising.

This then causes your standards to get a tilt and you’re not the same leader anymore. It doesn’t hurt to make friends, but don’t let your friendships compromise your value and your objectives.

A Narcissist.

Have you ever heard the tale of Narcissus? According to Greek Mythology, he was cursed by a God to look at his reflection in the water and fall in love with it every day. He fell in love so much that it actually ruined him!

As slay queens, we need to love ourselves. But we shouldn’t let our self-love turn into overconfidence, self-adulation, and self-centeredness at the expense of our followers and the common purpose.

A prejudiced discriminator.

In 1949, sociologist Merton illustrated prejudice and discrimination with four categories of people:

  • Unprejudiced non-discriminator
  • Unprejudiced discriminator
  • Prejudiced non-discriminator
  • Prejudiced discriminator

The prejudiced discriminator is the worst kind of leader to experience. They are a chooser and not a trainer. This kind of leader doesn’t believe that followers of a particular sect, religion, ethnicity or region can offer the common purpose any productivity due to insufficient justification and undue prejudice.

Great leaders do not just build visions, but they also build people. If one doesn’t avoid these habits of bad leaders, they end up attracting the wrong crowd, or no crowd! 

As Motherland Moguls, let us strive to make sure we are not bad leaders. Build your dreams on the right and with the right attitude. Let’s make Africa better with the advent of good leadership and fellowship.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.