There are lots of great executives who want to do everything they can to help women leaders grow and succeed in their careers. They know and respect the fact that women are often strong problem-solvers and collaborators. They also know that having more female executives can lead to increased profitability.
As we celebrate Women's History Month, we delve into what can be done to help women succeed in leadership. We’ve put together 5 ways you can help accelerate your high-potential women leaders and boost the bottom line of your company.
1. Encourage Women to Raise Their Hand
Women, even when highly competent, often struggle with confidence. This lack of confidence can lead them to believe they must check all of the boxes and/or have 100% of the necessary qualifications before moving forward. Gently pushing women to take those risks and providing a safety net for failure allows them to increase their confidence. Over time, this comfort level enables them to stretch and volunteer for the bigger assignments and jobs that can pole vault their career.
2. Leverage Their Social Awareness and Relationship Management Skills
There is significant evidence out there to support emotional intelligence (EI) being a predictor of professional success, and there are also fascinating findings that show women score higher in social awareness and relationship management EI skills. Therefore, inviting women into situations requiring the ability to read the mood of the room and/or deepen relationships can allow them to excel and get noticed. It also can pay big dividends for the company!
3. Enable Women to Move Up
Leaders help women move from middle to senior management by mentoring them in and exposing them to these three areas of the organization. In her TedTalk, “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get,” Susan Colantuono refers to business, strategic and financial acumen as “the missing 33%” that is needed to close the gender gap in executive leadership positions. In her talk, Colantuono explains that a door opener into senior leadership is understanding where the business is headed, what the financial targets are and how to help the company reach those goals. Although this may seem obvious, most women have never been told this, and thus may remain unaware of the importance of gaining critical experience in these areas.
4. Invite Them into the Conversation
Some women will hesitate to interrupt and challenge because their social upbringing may discourage this behavior. Executives can help women when they realize and understand this and encourage women to speak up and be heard. Identify when someone else takes credit, or is recognized, for something a woman has just said or done. When noticed, an effective response is to simply say something like, “I believe Jane said that moments ago. Jane, would you elaborate on that idea?” This acknowledges that she’s been heard and invites her back into the conversation.
5. Encourage and Support Work-Life Balance
Professional women, especially those raising families, sometimes struggle with feeling guilty. It goes back to the need to be perfect. This guilt can eat them alive and contribute to their exiting the workplace. Support women by simply asking what is needed to help them excel in both areas of work and life. Asking, listening and working together to find ways to integrate work and family can go a long way toward showing support and helping women thrive in the workplace.
Women occupying senior leadership positions can be a competitive advantage in business.
In 2021, articles about how to support women in the workplace should be pretty obsolete... But, in spite of the progress made over the past few decades, things still aren’t always equal in the office, or the boardroom, or even the breakout room. Implement these 5 tips and you’ll be on your way to better supporting the women in your workplace.
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