“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court)
Nancy Pelosi, Oprah Winfrey, Anna Wintour, Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel, Irene Rosenfeld, Mary Barra, Marillyn Hewson and Eleanor Roosevelt. If you were asked to name 3 influential business leaders, would any of these names come to mind? Chances are probably not. Yet all these women appear on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business list and are ranked by Forbes as some of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’.
According to the Harvard Business Review, when most people are asked to picture a leader, they immediately picture a man. To further back this up, Dr. Abbie Griffith Oliver, assistant professor at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, replicates this same experiment in her class every year and only about 5% of her students, both men and women, identify a female leader. Do you find that surprizing? Or has it just become part of the societal norm?
Research states that we’ve developed these implicit biases due to the profound lack of women being represented in leadership positions.
There is no denying that the business world is a male dominant playing field. While gender should have no bearing on whether someone would be a great leader, unfortunately that is simply not the case. Women are more often overlooked and discouraged to take on leadership roles and positions with power. One of the many barriers blocking women from leadership positions is unfair stereotypes. Female leaders are accused of being too soft, too emotional, too difficult, too empathetic, too irrational. Just too much. On the off chance that women are placed in leadership roles their leadership moves and decision making is questioned even when they are identical to their male counterparts. There is a very clear double standard that is impossible to ignore.
“When a man storms out of the room, he’s passionate. When a woman storms out, she’s unstable, emotional, and unprofessional” – Nell Scovell(successful Author of ‘Just the Funny Parts: …And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club’).
Despite female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies being few and far between and the significant underrepresentation of women in all levels of business leadership, research-based evidence suggests women are primed to be exceptional leaders.
Not only do women score higher than men on nearly all emotional intelligence competencies, women are just as good, and often even better, at some of what we think of as male qualities, like being decisive, authoritative and making tough calls. In fact, according to an analysis done by the Harvard Business Review women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiates excellent leaders. Some of these capabilities include an innate drive to achieve results, demonstrating bold leadership, strong relationship building, collaboration and teamwork, problem solving, communication, integrity, honesty, and an interest in the development of others.
Women in leadership positions embody both what we consider to be ‘traditional male’ qualities and ‘traditional female’ qualities. This makes them extremely well-rounded leaders with a diverse repertoire of skills. Women are proven to have a more holistic approach to leadership compared to their male counterparts. This results in astounding business success, as well as greater employee growth, development, and satisfaction.
Women are also equipped to be exceptional transformational leaders. This is due to their high level of self-awareness, awareness of others, strong tolerance for discomfort and more collaborative leadership styles compared to men.
With so many exceptional leadership qualities, why aren’t more women rising to the top? Why is it that every time we seemingly reach some sort of breakthrough in female leadership and enthusiastically celebrate that perhaps things are finally going to change, we’re immediately knocked right back due to the lack of female representation in corporate leadership positions, on boards and at the highest levels of government? Why are we, the women of the 20th and 21st centuries, still putting up with less than we bargained for and deserve? With recent initiatives like the #MeToo movement throwing a glaring spotlight on the profound gender gap that continues to exist in the workplace.
How do we ensure that the number of female leaders continue to rise and women looking to peruse leadership roles feel empowered to do so?
Due to decade long gender inequality, stereotypes, toxic corporate cultures, significant under-representation and support and gender bias faced by women in the male-dominant business world, women have been primed to believe they don’t DESERVE to be in positions of power. As a result they diminish their own leadership potential and fail to realize how poised for success they truly are. How do we change this?
One of the most effective ways to help guide, uplift, support and empower female leaders is through a women’s business coach.
The importance of business coaching in the development and growth of female leaders is paramount. Coaching has long been lauded as one of the most transformative and empowering platforms for personal and leadership development. Research indicates that women derive a host of benefits from partnering with a coach. A women’s journey in leadership is not exactly direct. Women in leadership roles will encounter more unexpected obstacles and challenges along the way compared to their male counterparts. This may result in them not pursuing leadership positions they are primed for or worked hard to achieve.
A business coach can help you tap into your potential, set specific professional and personal goals, and assist you in navigating career transitions. All these aspects combined are geared towards maximising your leadership potential. A business coach also helps you grow by analysing your current situation and identifying any self-limiting beliefs or self-sabotaging behaviour patterns that might be holding you back. Your business coach will then devise a custom plan of action designed to help you achieve your specific outcomes (both personally and professionally), ultimately transforming you into the bold, confident, and passionate leader you were ALWAYS destined to be.
Business coaching can help ambitious women looking to take the next step in their careers in the following additional ways:
While we’ve in no way reached the stage of equality between men and women within the male-dominant corporate world we desire, and change is not happening nearly as fast as it should, female leaders or continuing to make tremendous strides in the business world. By founding innovative companies, introducing revolutionary new ideas, making their voices heard, and building a path to achieving workplace equality, women are smashing through the perpetual glass ceiling and taking their rightful place as fierce female leaders that are forces to be reckoned with.
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” – Michelle Obama