Learn Her (nonverbal) Language
Maintaining personal, professional and leadership development opportunities should always be a part of your growth and career advancement strategy. But the learning doesn’t end there. People’s behaviors, attitudes and language—what we call soft skills—are no doubt shaped by an individuals’ race, culture, class and gender experience. This also translates itself into the work place. As such, your duty as a subordinate is to study your female boss. Be intentional about assessing how she engages with other males and aware of their interactions. This will inform how you should model your interactions with her, relate to her and even approach her. Also, this will inform you on how she likes to be engaged. She’ll also appreciate that you took the time to get to know her non-verbal cues and are respecting her preferences.
Let Her Lead – Literally
Female bosses are very aware of their need to assert themselves to prove that they are equal to men in the work place, particularly with their subordinates. Because of the sensitivity and credibility factors that gender poses in the work place it is critical that disagreements, particularly in meetings, are not read as being combative. Instead lead with acknowledgment and validating statements. For example if you have differing opinions on a topic or project you can say, “With all due respect, I disagree with you and here is why,” or “I understand your position, but here is what I believe.” Neutralizing language presents an equalizing energy. It won’t sound like you’re “man-splaining” or being defensive about your position.