Despite having great women leaders, there’s still room for more female leaders. There are also changes needed in how we develop them. According to Harvard Business Review, research has shown that teaching the right skills only, will not produce women leaders. Instead people become leaders by identifying with being a leader and by having a sense of purpose. Since women don’t tend to lead like men, women may be less valued. Not overtly, but as a bias that many don’t know is there. So how can women overcome these challenges and become better at leading?
Think like Leaders
Seeing the big picture or making decisions while considering the view from the top is one way proven to yield great results. In her book “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader,” Herminia Ibarra offers advice like:
· Redefine your job in order to make more strategic contributions. You are going to want to pursue goals that help your organization’s mission. But, also go after goals that align with your values. Good leaders and people who want to become leaders, need to set aside time for visioning their role.
· Diversify your network so that you connect to and learn from a bigger range of people. Who can you meet that will expand your network?
· Become more playful with your self-concept, allowing your leadership style to evolve. What outdated ways of working do you continue?
- Be an Influencer Leadership is more than a title; leaders are influencers. Some millennial women have found this to be their strategy of choice. There are many ways to be a great influencer:
· Career Field. Starting in the know of changes in your career field can provide lifelong learning and the opportunity for you to be the subject matter expert. Every new skill and technology you get is a step closer to a leadership position.
· Make an Impact. Look for opportunities that will make a major impact in the organization. Choose challenging assignments that expand your learning and capabilities while helping to reach business goals. Your goals don’t have to only be what you do, but who you are as you do them; a mark of a great leader.
One common thread in building women leaders is the workplace. Having a safe workspace for learning, experimenting and mentorship will help women take more risks and become more visible. A safe setting might be a coaching relationship, a women’s leadership program, or a mastermind group. Organizations that are serious about building women leaders need to ensure they support these strategies to be successful.