Much has been written on the question of women and leadership, and the questions raised are many. Women in leadership: is it fundamentally different from the male leadership model? Are women underrepresented in high management?
The objective of this article is not to answer these questions as much as it is to find leads that would help favor the development of women’s careers.
Therefore, here are 5 tips for developing women’s careers.
1. Define What Professional Success Means to You
The notion of success is arbitrary – people have completely different visions of what professional success means. Is success supposed to be financial in nature, social, or is it rooted in self-fulfillment, in happiness at work, in work-family balance, or in climbing the corporate ladder; is it to accomplish great feats, to inspire others, to have power, to make a difference in the world, or perhaps does it lie in service to others? We told you there could be may interpretations!
And what if success simply meant accomplishing that which is most important or valuable? In that context, again, success will mean something different to everybody and could (at least partially) explain certain differences between individuals.
In fact, few people take the time to truly reflect on what success means to them. They often learn or adopt a definition of success without it necessarily being the one that is native to them. Then again, without a definition that is based on what is most important, success can never be great, nor development optimal.
The answer to this question is most fundamental, and it influences the decision-making process and personal choices throughout one’s life. Success lies in reaching an objective, and in order to do so, the right choices have to be made!
Help Women Define What Success Means to Them
When it comes to women and leadership, this step is essential to build a plan for further action and development in order to reach success. How can you help, as an employer? Coaching and mentoring are both excellent tools. Using a psychometric test is also a good start to discover the employees’ motivations, their learning capacity and their tolerance to pressure; all are important factors in order to ensure that you make the best choices in full knowledge of their true nature.
2. Develop Women in Leadership
True leaders have clear missions and objectives in mind. In that context, defining one’s professional success takes on a whole new dimension of importance.
In addition, in the business world, success is often dependent on leadership, since success is closely related to teamwork. Hence, in order to develop women’s careers, it is important to guide them through the development of their leadership skills.
A true leader does not have a fundamentally different work personality – it is virtually the same as the one adopted in personal life. In other words, leaders are not role-playing at work. Why? Because imitation is not inspiring – it doesn’t inspire trust in others. What does inspire trust is authenticity. True leaders are authentic – meaning that they are conscious of their strengths, their limits and their emotions.
What should you do, then? Value authenticity! Success has many faces and different recipes. Let your employees be true to themselves and help them develop their strengths and reach their vision of success. In exchange, you will gain a five times more performing workforce!
3. Knowing Oneself Better to Optimize Women’s Careers
In order to succeed in any domain, one has to build on existing talents.
In order to do so, the first step is being aware of one’s natural strengths and limits (without forgetting the final objective!). It’s hard to develop or build on something that you are not conscious of!
This aspect is doubly important for the development of women’s careers because women, in general, have a less linear professional career than men. I would even say that women are often criticized for being “late” with their career development in comparison to men. One way of explaining that difference is by considering that, most often, a woman’s career contains breaks, such as the one induced by pregnancy. In this context of a natural slowdown, women must be even more strategic in their career development and make the right decisions.
How? By knowing their strengths and limitations!
That is indeed a great way to optimize efficiency! One who does not know their strengths and weaknesses might have a longer and less efficient career path, full of trials and errors. By being aware of their inherent traits, women can best optimize the development of their careers, reach their objectives, and build on accelerating elements and appropriate training opportunities. In order to do so, a psychometric test proves to be a great tool – easy, fast and inexpensive.
4. Develop the Network of Contacts
Success is also a matter of contacts. In order to work more quickly and be more efficient, this aspect is often neglected in women’s career development.
In addition, networking events are often scheduled outside of normal working hours. It is therefore harder for women to be present, considering their family responsibilities and a general lack of schedule flexibility. It is a plausible explanation for why high-level networking events are usually chock-full of men.
What can you do as an employer to improve the situation? Having mentoring programs targeted at women specifically and organizing networking events held during working hours is a great tactic. Another option is to allow and encourage networking outside of the office during working hours.
5. Having Support
As the saying goes, behind every great man stands a great woman.
Without the help and support of a life partner, having a family and success (according to every individual definition of success, of course!) is quite challenging. That is also why powerful women are often being judged for having abandoned their families. To give up one’s family or to neglect it is a possible choice for some, but not for all. Some have the luxury of relying on their life partners or extended family, but for many, the reality is quite different.
Make sure to favor a healthy work-life balance, offer a degree of flexibility in the schedule and examine the possibility for teleworking; these are excellent ways to favor women’s career development. Some businesses have understood that and have started offering family day care services, caretaking services, catering services, babysitting services, domestic care personnel, and so on…
All in all, when looking to support women’s career development, it is essential to assist them in their discovery of their strengths and limitations in order to optimize their development so as to reach their objectives, all the while building on the appropriate accelerators and training programs. So, do you truly know the ladies who work alongside you every day?