“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.” Indra Nooyi-Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
The numbers are stark! Women remain underrepresented at the top of corporations globally: Only 2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women; 16 percent of the members of executive teams in the United States; 12 percent in the United Kingdom; and 6 percent in Brazil. The research about women’s leadership validates that most sectors continue to move at a lagging momentum in terms of bringing women into upper positions. A quote by Lawrence H Summers states that ” a society that does not establish pathways to leadership for all of its citizens is a society that is denying itself a possibility of excellence.”
Dynamics need to be changed. Even with women’s remarkable advances in education and the workplace in the past 50 years, men significantly outnumber women in leadership, particularly in upper corporate echelons. A “glass ceiling” metaphor depicts the struggle of women’s success being blocked below upper positions. Ann Morrison describes the problem: the glass ceiling is a barrier “so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy.” Barriers to women’s advancement can also be thought of as a “labyrinth”: Alice Eagly and Linda Carli proposed this concept to describe how women confront distinct obstacles that deadlock or disrupt their progress.
Corporations should address mind-sets and develop more inclusively diverse agendas that improve female talent pipeline. Diversity training programs have proliferated in the past decade to ensure that corporate culture supports the ability of women to reach top board. At this moment, diversity and inclusion are a critical part of successful business strategies in a marketplace defined by complexity, filled with challenges in skills, and culture. Today’s most thriving enterprises are those that bring diverse outlooks and involvements to each new challenge. In point of fact, diversity and inclusion offer institutions a calculated advantage especially at the leadership level. Research proves that companies with more women on the board statistically outperform their peers, and that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform. The question to be asked here is Why: An easy and forthcoming answer to this query is that people perform best when they are esteemed, valued, empowered, and appreciated. More than ever, corporate world is poised to leverage women and empower them to realize their potential.
“Advancing diverse leaders and creating an inclusive culture are not individual efforts; they’re symbiotic. Inclusive leaders develop inclusive cultures—and inclusive cultures foster stronger leaders and teams that drive exponential results.” Susan MacKenty Brady-Lead Strategist
Leadership is a way of being. However, “power unused is power useless”. The “glass ceiling” is no longer transparent. It, in fact, is being frosted by internal skepticism and self-doubt. Women need to embrace their leadership skills, have the confidence they desire, and overcome inner fears. Women should believe in their worthiness, unpack their fears and conquer them, step out from self-doubt, have faith in their own abilities, and build an inner confidence prowess.
“Just say yes. Use any fear as motivation to be successful. That fear will then turn into confidence.” Adena Friedman President, Nasdaq
Women need to know what their specific strengths are, hone them, befriend them and articulate them through an essential process of branding and presence. No more room for ambivalence, the fact of not knowing what we want. There is just no point in wandering aimlessly. As a matter of fact, it is the responsibility of women, to know their distinctive assets and ultimate goals.
On the track to leadership, women need to promote their ability to speak up and self-advocate, they need to step-up, be bold, never shy away, and be aware. Women should also prove their value via being accountable for their own future. They should build alliances and connecting networks that help them solicit strategic savvy.
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” —Melinda Gates
Being leaders, corporate women should be seen as influential multipliers. They need to attract and mentor great talent, bridge the pathway to leadership, and then inspire. Women leaders should share responsibility and influence an environment where their leadership style has an exponential effect: Lead and inspire to lead.
“I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.” ―Maya Angelou