It is no secret that women are far behind men when it comes to taking up leadership roles in corporate spaces and big business. In 2019 only 33 CEO of the fortune 500 companies are women. In South Africa in 2016, from a total of 373 executives in the Top 40 companies‚ 83 (22%) were women. These statistics are no way a representation of women’s abilities and performance. A study from Peterson Institute for International Economics showed that companies with women in their C-suites were more profitable than those who I did not. Yet, we are still faced with the statistics we have.
Leaders have to come from somewhere and have to start somewhere, so I am sharing some tips shared by coaches and mentors, of how to work towards leadership roles and eventually the C-suite.
1.Deal with your confidence
Women tend to be modest in sharing their successes and shy to speak about how amazing they are. There are times where we suffer from imposter syndrome, doubting our accomplishments, scared that those around us will think we are faking it, that we don’t belong, that we’re imposters.
We have to stop ourselves from verbalising any doubt we have about ourselves, even when it’s difficult. Find triggers that Jew is confident, I find mentors are great for this. They will share their views on your accomplishments objectively, and let you know when you’re doing great.
2.Start your personal brand
There is already a post on how to build your personal brand. It is important to note that you must try to take control of your own brand. More details on this are on the post linked above.
3. Speak up
When you do well, let people know. We all know of examples where a woman says that she came up with a great idea but did not get recognition for it because they let someone else take the lead or simply did not speak up. Being a team player is a great quality, but if no one knows your capabilities, other team players will advance past you.
4. Stakeholders management
Stakeholder management is not only a phenomenon for companies but individuals too. We all have people around us that need to be managed in different ways. These people could be your current manager, colleagues and leaders that refer or hire future leaders. Because of this, you need to manage these people and map them out by priority of stakeholder, based on what you want to achieve. Identify who is key to your career advancement, map out their roles and get managing. Now by this, I do not mean “sucking up”, but rather understanding what level of engagement is required for certain people, and engage as needed. It is only in engaging with people that they will know that you exist and how amazing you and remember you when the next leadership role comes up.
5. Find the right place
You can put together a great plan, do all you can to advance, but if the organisation you are at does not advance women in leadership, you will fail. There is no point in being in an organisation that does not see women in leadership roles as a key objective and not proactively supporting talented women in the workplace. So, identify if your current employer is the right place and if not, start looking for one that is.
Although there is always an element of hard work, “it’s not about working harder, it’s about working the system.” (Evan Spiege)