Yin & Yang is the balance of life. Wise organizations which prioritize women and men equally in leadership positions are healthy and wealthy. Organizations are living organisms, and both male and female energies carry their own importance and relevance.
Then why does the title “Women Leaders” seem enigmatic? It’s a reality that very few women factually make it to the top echelons of an enterprise. The struggle always exists; though not identical for both men and women. Very few men out of the total population of males in an organization make it to the top. After all, the pyramid by its virtue cannot accommodate too many people at the top. So the question arises who makes it to the top? The answer is people who demonstrate the correct behaviors! The ultimate principle of “as we sow so shall we reap” prevails here too. Both men and women face growth challenges which are unique and tangibly different.
If you have therefore chosen to sow the “right seeds” to make it to the top of the corporate pyramid this blog will interest you. I dedicate this article to all the remarkable women leaders whom I trained, coached and studied. They certainly did beat all odds that they were faced with, both on professional and personal front. For a woman, it is undoubtedly more difficult than a man owing to the work-life balance priorities but surely not impossible. You need a coping strategy and let us thus discuss each factor and modify behaviors accordingly.
- Research shows women do better on most behavioural competencies than men at the workplace. This is so because women tend to do better on people competencies & empathy while being equally good on task competencies. Therefore, we need to explore some other factors that hamper the progress. Competencies are thus evidently not a part of this conversation. The problem is we do not have the critical mass of women role models in the system which thus triggers the glass ceiling effect.
- Men compete to win and do negotiate hard in their career roles. This is a part of their upbringing. Women, by virtue, are not hard bargainers. This is a factor that goes against them. They are seen more accommodating. However, if women start bargaining hard, it will manifest a negative outcome as they will be perceived as aggressive. So the point here is they need to get into career conversations with superiors. This sets the expectations clear in everyone’s mind. So career conversation and expectation setting is a must. This is seldom done in corporate settings by women and at times by men too.
- Now that the expectations are set to make it to the top, women will need to deal with the biases which are as under:
- First generation bias: Women must not be made leaders: There is no solution here. The best is to look for alternate career options. It is a consciously practiced behavior by the leadership of the organization and does not change easily.
- Second generation bias: Women must be made leaders but prioritizing males is the unconscious pattern: This more subtle and can be dealt with, by having Mentors within the organizations who will help you out. This bias is a fluid one, and there are always supporters of women leaders present in such organizations. They must be your champions.
- Build networks both internally and externally. Become visible. It is a sure shot way to grow. The world rewards competence in a woman and formal and informal networks are the accelerators. Be present at important forums and contribute visibly.
- Break the glass ceiling. Stop rewarding or blaming circumstances and luck. Take charge of your career and go for it. Focus your energy on what you want. Find a way out of the guilt that can impede you. Build and invest in an ecosystem to support your career. Social guilt is the worst form of digression. Invest in Personal Mastery interventions and Mentorship.
- Deal with politics by not being just a witness, but cut through it by leveraging on powerful and influential people in your network. Get a mentor. All women who have succeeded have always had a mentor. A mentor is a must!
- Create your individual Identity by playing an active role in leadership conversations and projects in the organization. This goes a long way. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
What you do between the age of 25-35 defines your career. If you compromise, it will hurt you; be authentic in life by being true to your passion. Women leaders are growing in numbers and make sure you become a part of this movement. Repentance in hindsight is not a great story to be with. It is better to win than be a victim of circumstances. Like Henry Ford said whether you think you can or you think you can’t; both ways you are right because it is your thought.
Our thoughts shape our world finally. Make your life a powerful story.