I know you’re thinking ‘what!?’. In no way, shape or form does female leadership sharing anything in common with cheerleading! Right? Wrong.
Cheerleading is a sport of skill, determination, strength, power, agility, perseverance and beauty. You would be surprised to see what it has in common with female leadership…
1. TRUST in self and team
Just like a cheerleading team, you need to trust in and rely on yourself and your team – and they on you – unwaveringly. Like a good cheer routine, learn the mechanics well enough and you can just allow and trust them to work. Know that if you fall, someone will catch you while the rest of the team keep on with the routine. And just like a cheerleader has a coach, ensure you have a good mentor.
Have you ever seen a cheerleader stumble? When she falters, she doesn’t miss a beat; when she falls, she is up before she has even hit the floor. Her team rallies around her, sharing her disappointment and encouraging her to keep going. You and your team will fall at some stage. Be prepared for it and when it does happen, understand, support and then encourage to get straight up! Give your team room to fall, knowing that in doing so they will learn, improve and deliver.
The precision in execution of a successful cheer routine originates from clear instruction and guidance. As a leader, you need to provide the same clarity in instruction and guidance. Every member of the team needs to know what is expected of them and their role, and given the resources, learning and support they need to be successful. Strong communication, and aligning people with meaning and purpose, are inherent strengths for female leaders. Own your clarity of purpose – your why, your passion and what you want to deliver – and share it with your team.
4. THE POWER OF TEAM
Don’t underestimate the power of working as a team. A great cheer team works together, many parts of one, each with an equally important role in the routine, and spend hours upon hours practicing to deliver. The flyer (at the top of the pyramid) doesn’t get there by herself, and is in fact completely useless without the strength and synchronicity of her bases (those lifting her up) – they provide her support, stability and freedom to perform her part.
Every member of your team has an equally important role to play. You and your team will perform your best when you’re all in synch – producing powerful, awe-inspiring effects. As the leader, it’s your role to ensure you are lifting all the other team members up and letting them perform their parts.
5. CELEBRATE THE WINS
Just like a cheer team that hits zero (achieves zero errors in a routine), when you nail that work routine – celebrate! Celebrating small wins inspires belief and builds confidence, and confidence within a team in turn has a huge ripple effect, building trust, motivation and more success. This aligns with a female leaders’ natural tendency to nurture and support those around her.
6. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
It gets messy! New skills take time to learn, develop and then perfect. Cheerleaders spend months perfecting a routine before taking it to competition. They forgive when mistakes are made. Female leaders inherently prioritise the development and growth of others. And just like a cheer team wouldn’t use the same stunts, choreography or routine a second time, your team needs continuous learning to stay engaged, motivated and stretched.
7. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF ‘BLING’
Cheerleaders have big personalities. And have you seen the gorgeous, sparkly outfits they wear? A bit of bling creates impact! And so too in female leadership. Let your personality shine. Know your superpower and own it.
8. BRING IT!
You heard me right – Bring. It. On! Cheerleaders always head onto the floor with intent to deliver 100% and win. As a female leader, bring your competitive nature and always give 100%. But, as is the way in the sport of cheerleading, always cheer on the competition with respect, humility and a sense of common purpose.
Disclaimer: I am not a cheerleader, but I am a cheer mum. I have huge respect and awe for cheerleaders, as athletes and as girls who will become women that will change the world.