How to Rise to the Top Without Selling Your Soul: 5 Keys for Women Leaders
There are not enough women leaders. We know more about gender bias and workplace equality than ever, yet the gender gap is widening. One in four Americans still work for companies with no women in management roles. Women are three times more likely than men to say they have personally missed out on an assignment, promotion, or raise because of their gender.
Does it get better for women executives? Actually, the more senior the position, the more women feel they’ve been passed over, and a mere 28 percent of senior-level women are happy with their careers, as opposed to 40 percent of senior-level men. At the very point when a woman finally reaches a position of senior management, she may experience a “secret code” among her male colleagues that make her lose confidence and doubt her own abilities.
But women are naturally equipped to be tremendous leaders — and diverse workplaces are more innovative, more productive, and have far more engaged employees, as studies show. A 2015 McKinsey Global study showed that adding more women to key labor roles may help increase the U.S. GDP by as much as $28 trillion.
Here are 5 ways to start overcoming that gender gap, one step at a time.
- Face facts. Acknowledge that men and women think and act differently, and we need both styles of leadership to best get things done. Research has proven that bias training is not changing workplace behaviors as hoped, despite the fact that nearly 30% of companies have invested in this solution. The male leadership approach is still alive and well largely because men are largely still in charge. Training is not enough to change that: we have to start having real conversations that don’t gloss over real gender differences.
- Start talking. Inspire conversation by getting rid of divisive language. Saying “men do this” or “women do that” can cause tension and trigger further biases that impede progress. The definition of gender has broadened tremendously today, too. Instead of framing differences in terms of gender, use “Grit” for leadership styles commonly associated with men, and “Grace” for leadership styles associated with women. The terms tend to trigger conversation, not shut it down.
- Embrace Grace. It takes Grace and Grit to effectively lead. One key reason for employee disengagement is that leaders do not understand the social dynamics of the workplace. Women leaders tend to bring this awareness to the table, and it’s particularly useful with millennial employees. Don’t disconnect from Grace in order to conform to harder models of leadership. In an effort to fit in, too many women professionals try to mask natural leadership behaviors, but these are the very behaviors a workplace needs.
- Focus on your power. Women tend to focus on competence instead of confidence, but this a mistake may limit their career progression. If you have a negative view of your own power, you hamstring your own ability to motivate your people to perform. If you recognize your own power, it may be more Go to the full article.