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How Women Advance into Leadership

Regardless of your political views, it’s abundantly clear that as a society we need more women leaders.  Yet that’s not the trend we’re currently seeing.  The number of women leading Fortune 500 companies dropped by roughly 25% since last year, leaving fewer women in leadership positions with decision-making power. As we know, this is not a new […]

Back view of businesswoman drawing arrows on wall. Leadership and path concept
Back view of businesswoman drawing arrows on wall. Leadership and path concept

Regardless of your political views, it’s abundantly clear that as a society we need more women leaders.  Yet that’s not the trend we’re currently seeing.  The number of women leading Fortune 500 companies dropped by roughly 25% since last year, leaving fewer women in leadership positions with decision-making power.

As we know, this is not a new challenge.  The good news is, it’s one being addressed by leading employers.  Better yet, we can begin turning the tide by learning and adopting a handful of proven best practices in the workplace.

A recent study conducted by outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison provides the data.

This study recognized 5 distinguishing behaviors and beliefs practiced in organizations where women we equally represented in and promoted to leadership positions.

 Self-advocacy. This is one #1 challenge most women struggle with.  In spite of our accomplishments, our results don’t speak for themselves.  Opportunities won’t seek us out. Self-advocacy is critical to gaining recognition.  

Successful women own their strengths and accomplishments, share how they add value to the organization, and ask for opportunities to grow and advance.  

I love using LinkedIn for this.  It’s the perfect forum for building your brand by sharing achievements, both yours and others’.  Keep your resume up to date with details of projects you’ve worked on, initiatives you’ve taken and results you’ve generated.  Whether or not you’re looking for a new job, this is a valuable record or your accomplishments you can refer to and build upon.

Network with stakeholders. It’s so important to build a strong network within your organization.  LinkedIn is great for this as well, be sure to connect with your management team. 

Ask for introductions, and keep the conversation going. Don’t be afraid to invite managers to meet to discuss opportunities to learn about their upcoming projects or initiatives and how you can participate. 

Use GoogleAlerts.com to track key words associated with you company and industry to find valuable content you can share with others in your network. 

Join (or establish!) internal task forces and keep managers up to date with relevant news. 

Exhibit a high degree of confidence.  This is so important.  Lack of confidence is often what holds women back from fully stepping into leadership roles. Fortunately, confidence can be learned and developed.  Finding the right coach or mentor, within your organization or externally, to help you build your confidence and leadership skills is a worthwhile investment.

Take risks to learn new skills. Successful women make bold and sometimes uncomfortable moves to fulfil new roles, worked on high profile projects, made important presentations to senior stakeholders or even geographic moves. These opportunities provide exposure, profile and invaluable skill development. While these are often seen as significant stretches, they are necessary to succeed longer term.

Clear, shared career plan. Compared to men, women tend to have less clear career goals that are shared with others, which then results in receiving less sponsorship for growth and development. Women do take more breaks in their careers than men due to child rearing and family responsibilities.

However, women who are successful in advancing upward plan their careers with a longer time horizon in mind, continuously share their plans, and get the support they need along the way to continue to progress.

Equality is not a “women’s” issue; it’s a social and economic imperative. In fact, up to $28 trillion could be added to the global GDP if we achieve gender equality by 2025, according to McKinsey Global Institute.

Don’t let the status quo hold you back.  Persistence is not something society encourages in women.  We’re battling a culture that’s worked to shame, silence and control us for millennia.   Many of us have been conditioned from birth to suppress our desires, curtail our strengths, hide our power, constrain our emotions and be nice.  But we’re not here to hide.  It’s time for us to step into our value. 

These action steps sound daunting, but the right mentor or career coach can help you develop an action plan, identify sharable accomplishment and learn the right networking strategies to map your path to career success, starting today!

Elizabeth Borelli, PCC is a certified professional career coach and keynote speaker.

Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn or at www.NextCareerCoaching.com today!

Check out the original LHH report:  https://tinyurl.com/y67klbt7

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