The Female Leader

So here’s what I’ve noticed in coaching highly successful women leaders.

Yes, these opinions are based on my own observations only and may not be backed up by scientific evidence (although ironically a lot of them are. See here  and here for two worthwhile articles, just for starters).

And yes, the following statements are also generalisations.

But bite me. I’m going to put them out there anyway…

1. When it comes to their professional lives, women doubt themselves more than a lone weed in a garden of magnolias.

2. Women’s inner critics are alive and well. In fact, they are thriving – and at times, seem more strident than their male counterparts.

3. Women are still afraid (for a raft of reasons) to demonstrate what are commonly termed ‘feminine traits’ in their leadership roles. Traits such as compassion, intuition and empathy are often suppressed for fear of being too ‘touch-feely’.

4. We don’t back ourselves enough when it comes to promotions. Our own ideas. Our own capabilities.

We don’t back ourselves enough, period.

Here’s what I have also noticed when coaching and working with extraordinary women.

When we DO start to back ourselves – own our power and become more of who we really are –  it’s an impressive sight to behold.

We become extraordinary leaders.  

Too many women feel an overwhelmingly oppressive pressure to be like their male counterparts. I get it. I have also experienced the pressure to adopt so-called ‘masculine leadership traits’ as well – such as aggression, competitiveness and mental toughness.

But…you don’t have to be aggressive to get ahead. 

There has never been a more relevant time in history for women to step up, step forward and lead – in an authentically feminine way.

So, instead of sitting on the sidelines, I’ve decided to do my bit.

I got together with some awe-inspiring, totally baddass women. We have put together a phenomenal four day residential workshop, located in the breathtaking setting of Marlborough, New Zealand.

The aim of The Female Leader programme?

It’s about breaking ‘male-mirroring’ behaviours. Exploring the leadership mindset. Examining mental and physical resilience required for female leaders today. And most importantly, empowering women to lead in an open and authentic way.

It’s bloody good, if I do say so myself.

Who is The Female Leader for?

Are you…
A female leader?
Ready to learn some very cool stuff?
Keen to hang with some awesome people – just like you?
Wanting to become the leader you are designed to be?

If so, sign up.

If you are a man leading a woman leader – or if you have a peer who could benefit – pass this on to her right this minute.

Do it for your employer. Do it for those you lead. Do it for yourself.

Here are the details:

What: The Female Leader
Where: Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Marlborough
When: March 29 – April 1, 2016
Facilitators: Fiona Fenwick, Jayne Muller, Suzi McAlpine
Cost: Earlybird $8995 + GST* (book by November 30 2015). After November 30 2015, $9950 + GST*
Limited to 12 attendees per programme
*travel additional

Click here to download the flyer.

Fiona, Jane and I look forward to seeing you there.


  1. Ralph on November 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I love this. You’re so right Suzi. I’ve been saying to the young women I lead and want to see step into their fullness this same message. ‘Don’t compete with men, be who you are and step forward, it’s needed!’ Thanks for putting it out there. There’s not enough women blogging on leadership and I really appreciate your voice!

    • Suzi McAlpine on November 19, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks Ralph! I love that – “be who you are and step forward”…this is so on point. Cheers, Suzi.

  2. Briggita Baker on November 14, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Totally agree with all of the above Suzi. Very timely for me as I am attending a ‘Leadership for Women’ course in Napier for two days this week and these are exactly the type of themes we are going to be exploring.

    • Suzi McAlpine on November 15, 2015 at 2:01 am

      Thanks for commenting Brigitta. Go well on your course and let us know what you’ve learned!

      • Briggita Baker on March 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

        Hi Suzi
        I realised that I forgot to come back and post about the workshop I attended last year. I had noted the dates for your Female Leader weekend – hopefully you are primed and ready to roll for that – so thought I would add a followup comment.
        The biggest take-home message I got from the two days I spent with a group of women leaders wasn’t related to the tools and approaches we learnt to deal with the things that challenge us most (although these were incredibly valuable) but was actually how refreshing, empowering and reinforcing it was to HAVE PERMISSION to dialogue about gender issues in the workplace. They are still alive and well, but as a woman who grew up with a banner on the fridge saying ‘Girls Can Do Anything’ I’d always felt the need to ‘suck up’ the biases I witnessed in the corporate workplace (rather than address them openly), prove that I was equal to my male colleagues (rather than celebrating our differences), and thoroughly squash any ‘feminine responses’ (will it ever be okay to tear up when someone gives you honest but harsh feedback?). There is a lot of talk currently about the long road we still have to travel to achieve gender equality in all sorts of areas (not only parity of pay) but what about focussing on the unique qualities/strengths/world views we bring to the table as INDIVIDUALS, rather than limiting ourselves to definitions aligned with gender stereotypes. Yes women in general seem to struggle more with ‘playing big’ and stepping into their awesomeness for a whole range of reasons, but as the mother of two daughters, I want to help create a world of work where both feminine and masculine qualities are truly celebrated and valued (and where it is okay to demonstrate both, no matter what gender you are). Looking forward to you blogging more on this subject … and to hearing all about your forthcoming programme – how I wish I could be there!

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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