5 big traps for women leaders

Be aware of these common traps for women leaders

Not all women are the same, but there are some common traps for women leaders that we need to be wary of. And don’t worry, we have solutions for them too.

There is a click bait soundbite that says women don’t need fixing – it’s workplaces that do. That is completely true. But one of the downsides of simplifying situations to a single sentence is that it suggests that women don’t need any training or coaching to improve their professional performance, which is completely untrue. Just as some men equally need personal development. But there seem to be some behavioral traps for women leaders that they fall and get stuck in more than men.

traps for women leaders

Here are 5 traps for women leaders that we can think of:

#1 Dealing with differences

Women are supposed to have a more collaborative approach to work, although I have known my fair share of control freaks and micro-managers who have been female. So it can also be one of those misplaced gender stereotypes. There are also lots of collaborative men! But it’s important when dealing with diversity of thought or differences of approach, to be aware of two traps for women leaders that can derail them.

  • If you have an alternative idea – don’t apologise. How many times have you heard women say “I’m sorry but I disagree…?” It’s OK to say “what about an alternative idea…” It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation but an “also/and.”
  • If someone else contradicts you or comes up with something different – it’s not about you. Don’t take it personally. You are not what you do or your job title. Neutralise it and make it about the job or conversation.

It’s normal to look for recognition and validation of our self-worth in our professional lives. Feedback, if given constructively, is not about who we are, but what we are doing. Sadly women tend to receive feedback that is focused on style rather than substance. The trick is to tell the person “I hear what you say about my delivery style… but what about the content of my presentation.”

If our values and vision are firmly anchored and we are sure of our inner purpose and selves, then this is much easier to achieve. If you struggle then get some support from either a coach or a mentor.

3Plus has a vast array of female Mentors with a wealth of differing experiences. Contact us NOW to find out more.

#2 Holding back

As leaders become more accustomed to conducting inclusive meetings, it should be easier for women and other more introverted personalities to be heard. But women are caught in the double bind which is if they are assertive then they are perceived as being abrasive or aggressive. That is not your problem. Provided you have expressed yourself correctly, how the other person receives your input is up to them. There is no need to hold back or play second string for fear of resistance or wanting to make someone else feel more significant. Convey this with strong body language, impactful content and powerful delivery.

If you see credit for your work or input being given to someone else say “Thank you for appreciating my idea....”

#3 Separate career and parenting

There are many among us who still call women “career mothers” or “working Moms.” But it is possible to be a mother and a professional woman without bundling them together. You never hear the term “career dad” or “working Father.” Ever. There are many learning experiences gained from being a parent which strengthen your skill set. But you are a strong professional and if your organisation doesn’t value your contribution based on that alone, then perhaps you need to find another employer.

#4 Rotate invisible work

There is no doubt that women take on the lion’s share of invisible work in most organisations. This is counter-productive and eats into your valuable time, which is a finite resource. So make sure you rotate who organises leaving parties, baby showers and other non-job related tasks with colleagues of both genders. These non-value adding tasks take your focus away from meeting your KPIs i.e. promotion based work. No one ever made VP because they plan a great retirement bash or summer BBQ.

#5 Gender imbalance at home

It could also be that you are caught up in an imbalanced relationship at home and in your personal relationship. Unless you are a single parent it’s time to have a difficult conversation with your partner and redraw your domestic picture. Women are still carrying out significantly more domestic duties as well as the “thinking” work of running a household. Make sure you are not being short-changed. An increasing number of women are treating household management like any other project and outsourcing “low value work.”  If it becomes a more serious issue, consider couple career coaching or even relationship counselling. It’s important that your partner supports your career.

Make sure that your company treats all its employees equally, without subtle prejudices. 3Plus can help with our Unconscious Bias Training Workshops.

3Plus, 3Plus online e-Gazine for professional women, Conversations about leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership
Staff Writer: Leadership and Competence Building
Staff Writer: Leadership and Competence Building
Email |
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Leadership and Competence Building or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

Leave a Reply

Found that interesting? Learn more about our services
Individual services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
more info
Corporate services
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
more info
Upcoming events
Currently we don't have upcoming events
Download and listen free podcasts
Why all women need a strong LinkedIn profile
Free Download

Data on women on LinkedIn has always been hard to get and analyse, but some new information sheds light on how women use the platform differently to their male colleagues and what those differences mean. You will find out why you need a strong LinkedIn profile.

It has always been difficult to identify women on LinkedIn because it’s not possible to do a search based on gender. Any efforts to track women on LinkedIn specifically, involve complex Boolean strings involving pronouns or searching via women’s clubs, universities and networks. So any analysis has always been more anecdotal around perceptions and personal experience, rather than data based. However research from 2017  using LinkedIn member profile data for members in the United States over the past 12 months. Published on the LinkedIn blog it supports pretty much what we already know about women on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn  is the main professional data base used globally by hiring managers and recruiters, yet women continue to engage less than their male colleagues, putting themselves at a distinct professional disadvantage. Now we have some facts and figures as well as tips and tricks to persuade  you to up your game. All women have to have a strong LinkedIn profile. No ifs and buts.


How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters
Free Download

In this power coaching podcast, we’re going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple times a week by active job seekers and passive candidates.

How can I get noticed by head hunters and recruiters and connect with them?

In this short power coaching podcast Dorothy Dalton shares some tips and tricks to make sure that you are always on the radar of the recruitment and search specialists who can be most helpful to you. With extensive experience in executive search and corporate HR Dorothy has placed, coached and trained thousands of men and women to career success. As a career coach she has a deep understanding of the job search market and what job seekers need to do to position themselves to they are easily found.

As CEO of 3Plus she also has deep experience of the challenges women face in the workplace. Sadly because women tend not to create career strategies they can be vulnerable when it comes to dealing with change. Regular transitions become career crises. In this short session you will learn some simple tips and tricks to make sure you are on the radar of key recruitment specialists in your sector, geography or function.  It’s not rocket science.





One of the most puzzling things about working in executive search is that people and I say this reluctantly particularly women fail to plan ahead. You’ve heard me say before that only 5% of women have a career strategy. This means that they are not prepared for any emergencies until they become a crisis.


Goal setting tips to boost your career
Free Download

The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and the upcoming work week. So how do you get to a place where you look forward to a new week of doing what satisfies you? You’ll have to either learn to love your current role, or make a commitment to pursue your dream job. Use these goal setting tips to help you get to where you want to be.

Some women choose the latter, and to do so you’ll have to set career goals to get where you want to be. So make sure you have a detailed plan on how to land a job that you will tick all the boxes.

The majority of women choose to stay in their own organizations and even then you still need to have goals, not just KPis set by your manager. But even if you do see your career developing within your current business it’s still important to set goals.

Many women struggle with career planning and creating a career strategy which can lead to problems. This makes them vulnerable to and sort of challenge which can moprh into a full blown career crisis. Some simple steps to plan and prepare can help avoid this.

Take a look at these goal setting tips to help boost your career and set you on the right path.

Lewis Carroll  said

If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.”

Research shows that only about 5% of women create career goals and a career strategy. This can have a negative impact on your career progression. It means you are reactive not proactive and career glitches can morph into full blown crises. It puts women at a clear disadvantage to men.

Learn these simple goal setting tips to boost your career and protect and prepare you for all eventualities. If these goal setting tips make you think that you could use some further help,  contact us immediately.


When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage
Free Download

There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about  female rivalry and competition between women. Some of it makes sense and some of it is confusing. Organizations are pyramids with fewer roles at the top than at the bottom. It is inevitable that at some level, as more and more women are in the talent pipeline, at some point they will be in competition with other women.

Many would say that women aren’t competitive. I would suggest re-framing that. I think it’s more accurate to say they are not as competitive in the workplace as men. We have also been made to feel guilty about being competitive. We need to get over that.  Here are the reasons:

  1. The male nature of corporate culture makes it a disincentive to compete
  2. Women don’t want to compete because  prescribed male goals are not attractive enough for them. “Work 14 hour days, not see my partner or family … get sick.. die..no thanks.. I’ll pass”
  3. Women don’t know how to compete in the workplace. They are new arrivals on the corporate competition scene and lack practise.
  4. Women experience gender blow back when they do compete, from both men and women
  5. Women have been raised to think that competing with other women is not empowering them. As more women enter the talent pipeline that is just nonsense.

Learn some insights from Annabel Kaye, Employment Law Expert about how it’s OK to be competitive and the danger zone when it can turn into sabotage. Understand the benefits of mutual support and how all women can profit from having strong strategic allies, role models and mentors.