It’s mind blowing to think that here we sit, half way through 2018, and women are still facing gender equality issues. Still working in environments where the blokes do better because, well, they’re blokes.
As a coach I continually hear from women who don’t even know where to begin busting through gender equality barriers. Well I can tell you that idle chat around the coffee machine isn’t going to cut it. And neither is a self-help book, no matter how well it’s written.
Women have what it takes to become extraordinary leaders. That’s a given. What they need is concentrated learning on leadership skills. They need to develop abilities and arm themselves with tools, and the ones that are right for them. Not the ones that only work for blokes.
Here’s what the research proves is effective. Women need to learn these non-negotiable essentials. They need to:
- Develop collaborative leadership behaviours that are informed — being a great woman leader doesn’t mean you have to act like your male counterparts and give away everything that makes you who you are. This means women need to start developing a wider range of relationships outside of the boardroom and meeting rooms. Men have boy’s clubs. Women need their own clubs. Women shouldn’t work in siloes. They should establish networks and interact with those who are supportive. In turn, women need to support.
- Create a plan to steer their career on a strategic leadership track — this will help you stay focused and moving in the right direction. It will help you avoid getting side-tracked. This means women need to accept that having a plan is 100 per cent essential. And implementing that plan is also 100 per cent essential. This isn’t a ‘tick and flick’ exercise. Women are in charge of steering their career.
- Build a growth mindset — men think about growth all the time and women can too. This means women need to abandon their ‘proving mindset’ and adopt a ‘growth mindset’. Instead of spending all their time proving their worth and abilities, women need to embrace challenges, seek feedback and not fear failure since this is all part of growing.
- Develop capacity for innovation — great male leaders excel at this and women leaders should also. This means women need to shatter the perception that they are less prepared to take risks. To do this, women need to take more calculated risks, be willing to speak up, be proactive in sharing opinions and be motivated to share creative ideas. Women shouldn’t hold back. They need to be loud and proud.
These essentials are based on evidence and research so they’re real. Seriously, the fluff stuff has got to go.
When I teach women how mental biases sabotage reasoning and how to uncover errors in thinking, so they don’t become errors in judgement, I see lightbulbs switch on. The same happens when I teach women how to better understand their behavioural style, so they can boost productivity and get the most out of interpersonal reactions.
One big issue is how to tackle health and wellbeing without any excuses. Women are good at sacrificing but when leading they must take care of their minds and their bodies or they’ll crack, and that will be noticed. Sleep is important. Eating is important. Exercise is important. Women instinctively know this. The aim is for them to accelerate their careers by applying what they know about their own health and wellbeing, or lack thereof. Research shows that even twenty minutes less sleep a night can affect decision making, mental flexibility, resilience and integrity.
It’s fabulous to see it when women are armed with their own tailored action plan and the determination to implement it. If every woman leader did this, the world would be a better place.
If you are interested in getting some first hand experience in leadership, Kim is holding a workshop ‘Be an amazing woman leader’ which is an intensive two-day workshop designed for women who want to become extraordinary leaders. It’s 100% guaranteed to give women the skills, abilities and tools to do just that. The next one is being held in Canberra 4–5 July. Early bird rates available now. Register online.