Many dealers and companies hire strong, veteran women that can help guide marketing and training practices. What if you have a lioness that’s killing more than she’s cultivating? Maybe she has good intentions, but her domineering attitude intimidates others. Here are two types and how to tame — or better yet — educate and inspire her to mentor others.
Everyone should go through what she did, right? This type of lioness expects that every other woman — or man — needs to buck up, quit bellyaching and swim through the shark-infested waters like she did.
One year at Sturgis Bike Week, a woman came up to our “Women’s Info” table and scolded me. “I don’t like what you’re doing,” she stated. “You’re telling men that women need something different, and we don’t. I ride a big Harley. Weak women shouldn’t be riding motorcycles.”
Yes, I told her, many women do ride big bikes, but “weak” was a subjective word. I complimented her on her fortitude, then mentioned that not all women had that type of confidence. For many, the road to becoming “strong” (emotionally and physically) doesn’t happen overnight. I asked her to think about some of her female riding friends, and how she’s helped them overcome fears they had.
Try to get this type of lioness to think about how she’s not your typical chick, and what a great example she could be for others. Clarify that mentoring other women doesn’t mean letting them “bellyache” and not take riding seriously. It means showing them how others have overcome challenges, and understanding that everyone takes the journey at a different speed. Ask if she has a sister or daughter who has needed some extra coaxing to take on and conquer a skill — whether it’s related to powersports or not.
Killing with kindness
On the other end of the lioness spectrum is the ultra-mentor. She wants to help EVERYbody, with EVERYthing. The problem here is that not everyone wants to have their journey micro-managed. They need to learn by doing, and sometimes making their own mistakes.
This lioness’ intentions are good, but she could be smothering prospective customers who come in by overloading them with the 20 things they need to do first. Then, she’ll list all of the events, training opportunities and websites they MUST read immediately. This can be intimidating and turn people off.
Tell her how some people prefer, “Baby steps,” that famous mantra from the movie “What About Bob.” Look for clues during a conversation to understand where another woman may be in her journey. Understand the phrases that mean she is ready for a next step. Two examples of comments I’ve heard countless times and tips on responses:
- “I’ve always wanted to ride, but just don’t think I have the coordination or strength.” Show her others who’ve overcome this attitude. Give her a few ideas on moving forward, such as a flyer for a safety course or one website for inspiration. Gauge her response, but be patient.
- “My husband wants me to ride, but I’m just too afraid and I like the back.” Agree there are benefits to being a passenger, and provide a few reasons why you love riding solo. Then back off. Too many of these women have been cajoled into taking a course. Then, because they were doing it for someone else, and not themselves, they fail. Someday they may change their mind, but don’t make them feel any less of a rider because they are on the back.
Remember these are just two types of lionesses, and neither is a bad person. Get them to think beyond their current experiences and be open to listening how others have taken a journey along a different path.
A rider for 25 years, Leslie spent 15 years with Harley-Davidson (three retail, 12 corporate) and created their marketing to women role in 2007. She spearheaded Women Riders Month and a Garage Party Campaign, which drove 25,000 women to dealers. After two years at Trek Bicycles, Leslie now helps companies be strategic with their marketing.