[Continuous read through Leadership Recipes]
I summarized all-purpose leadership takeaways from Future Woman Leadership Summit in my above Blog. As I mentioned, focusing exclusively on Woman Leadership challenges and approaches to handle them in this blog below.
Authentic research data says that around 53% women choose professional careers in their lives as beginners or in junior roles. This percentage heavily drops in middle managerial role to 40% and only 19% women make their journey continue till top executive leadership roles! As per one of the Forbes surveys, out of 3,50,000 women in entry-level positions, 1,50,000 had made it to middle management and disappointingly only 7,000 had made it to top management levels like Vice president, senior vice president or CEO. As per Forbes magazine’s 2017 list, there are only 32 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies!
Numbers are disappointing!
26% people take breaks in their career and 73% out of them are women and the reason they give is to manage family and personal circumstances!
So, let’s look at a few key challenges faced by women (to-be or present) leaders and the approaches that can help women in building stronger leadership.
- Am I my own enemy?!
In one of the surveys of Silicon Valley women top CEOs; only 3% of women CEOs admitted that they had confidence on themselves that they would be at the position they held in reality! Rest 97% were capable but unknowingly! Strong data and observation points prove that women lack in self-confidence especially in their professional goals. Change in perception, rightly estimating one’s potential, defining clear goals (not only vision) and persistent efforts towards achieving those goals will flip the sides!
- Don’t refrain to Start
Being a working wife and mom; I deal with and respect all those challenges a working woman is facing. But then, it’s a choice you have made for your life, your dreams, your career and your own satisfaction! As rightly said – Nothing worth comes easily! So, it is mandatory to get out of your comfort zone – Now – and START!
The first step towards your goal is the starter fuel! To start is that required ray of light which keeps squaring into Energy as per world’s most famous (Albert Einstein’s) formula E=mc2!
- Networking is the Key!
The outcome of my observations and discussions with many women (majority Indian women) acknowledges that many times women are lacking in networking. They are either not able to be the part of corporate dinners due to family responsibilities or lack friendliness and comfort on such dinner table discussions.
In my opinion, it is not compulsory to be the part of all or most of the after-office-hours gatherings but though collaboration is The Key! Building rapport with your team and other leaders helps others to understand your capabilities and core values better. Collaboration also helps you to understand others well and act accordingly.
Networking skills work best if you have entrepreneurial skills. So, work towards building entrepreneurial skills that helps you strengthen your corporate setup.
- Don’t stay away from financials
Our observations and HBR reports say the same thing that women’s climb at C-Suite and top management level is highly disappointing in financial sectors. Many top financial companies have put effective gender equality programs in place to bridge this gap but still results are awaited to see the change that we want! Another minor reason is that because the woman doesn’t see other woman at the top of corporate ladder; she takes back foot to choose finance as her career! As per Marsh and McLennan companies; addressing mid-career conflict scenarios can bring improvement in women leadership presence in financial sectors. So, a lot to happen in this area including removing pay parity between genders, but at the same time, women should consider improvements in the areas of learnability, education and confidence in financial domain and fill the vacuum-like here!
- Build your own brand!
Understand that we build our perceptions in the form we communicate and present ourselves. Our communication needs to be precise, on-time, rightly modulated, well-thought, intelligent, loud and clear as required.
Be graceful in your words, deals and reflect elegance.
Add humour at the right time and with right audience. Humour helps to get an easy exit and helps you to get the other side of the same person or situation.
In corporate world only work and no branding makes you a dull girl or boy. But leadership is that what shines! So, highlighting your skills, achievements and purposes is the key!
- Balanced Emotions
Women are emotional and this quality can either be a benefit or a disaster! It is good to be emotional but it is extremely important to draw limits in this area. Your EQ can play a very important role in driving leadership and mentorship qualities if analysed thoughtfully. Remember to use your emotions as a strength and not as a weakness as they should not be wrongly interpreted.
- Sisterhood should be healthy and not an issue
Various researches and examples say that women face unhealthy competition with women only. Women face challenges by their own women managers. (Not universally true and there are multiple positive examples of organizations like mine!)
If we want to see more women leaders, women will have to support other women! As said, there is a special place in hell for women who do not understand other women!
Learn – Unlearn – Relearn Leader!