Saturday, 31 December 2011

5 challenges to get women further up the ladder of success.

5 reasons why women don't make it up the ladder;

1. The Glass Ceiling
2. The Glass Cliff
3. The Children
4. Confidence
5. The "Bitch" Brand

1. The Glass Ceiling is when because of your gender (or race) you can get overseen for promotion.David Cotter has come up with a few criteria that need to be met However there has been research to suggest women are breaking through the ceiling only to find...

2. The Glass Cliff -  where women get given leadership roles that are risky and precarious. The report concluded that poor company performance may lead to the appointment of women to positions of leadership.  So women are set up to fail.  
Read more here
Get involved in the research here:

3. The Children - a study has shown women do twice as much housework and three times as much childcare than the man. So maybe we need to address the amount we work outside of our jobs.

Is it because the woman does more of the childcare that they're less likely to go for promotion? This may be a choice.  As a mother myself I know I want to see my daughter however I also want a successful career.  Surely it must be possible to find a balance. 

4. Confidence - some discussions seem to suggest that women can lack the confidence or self esteem to go for certain roles.  Women are more likely to criticise themselves while men are more likely to believe in themselves.  I"m not sure I completely agree with that as I've met many great women who know their worth, value and ability.  Maybe there is more work to be done there though. 

5. The "Bitch" Brand.  Many women I meet in the corporate world know that you can't always be liked and are willing to make difficult choices.  However most women do not want to be considered as the B word.  They like to be liked.  This may be another reason for not climbing the ladder to success.  

In the Heidi Roizen study that Harvard did they discovered that success and likeability were positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.  So successful women were less likely to be liked than men at the top.  

There is certainly more work to be done - either by working out our work/life balance, challenging the types of roles women get promoted into; building our confidence and self esteem.  Also as women in organisations we need to support and like women further up the ladder if possible.  We need to challenge our preconceptions of successful woman.  

I wish you all a very successful and fulfilling 2012. 

Friday, 30 December 2011

How do we get more women in the boardroom?

A study for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills this year showed 12.5% of members of the boardrooms of FTSE 100 companies were women. The study said "at the current rate it will take over 70 years to achieve gender balanced boardrooms in the UK"

Susan Vinnicombe Director of International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield University  said  "Businesses were organisations designed by men, for men". Female executives were overlooked for the mentoring that their male counterparts often received. 

So there are 2 options women either they have to get good in organisations designed by men or set up their own businesses designed by women. Setting up our own business will not get women in FTSE boardrooms in the short-term though. 

To get to the top,  we all have to be politically aware, influential and a good communicators. With flexible and home working in large corporates taking place,  working hard while spending quality time with your family may be more increasingly achievable. I'm not saying achievable and easy - it's challenging to find balance.  It requires clarity, bravery and self awareness. 

So how do we do it? Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook says we need to:

1. sit at the table 
2. make your partner your partner 
3. don't leave before you leave 

I translate this as keep getting noticed, work as an equal with our partners at home and in the office and keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself for promotion. 

Have a listen to her TED talk   

One thing women need to improve is promoting themselves in the organisation.  We need to: 

1. build allies to support projects in meetings 
2. improve our networking internally and externally 
3. speak in our language where possible - don't be afraid to have a unique take on things. 
4. scope your role for success - make it a role for promotion
5. get ambassadors blowing your trumpet - it's not the work you do it's how other people talk about it. 
6. help your line managers and team leaders be more successful - if you help them - they're more likely to help you. 

I believe building relationships is a natural female trait. However promoting ourselves doesn't seem to be as common place in the corporate world.   

Why? Could it be mothers have to work so hard when at work so they can pick up their kids on time. That means there is little time for self reflection and career planning. Any downtime is used to organise the home? 

In reality the difference between building relationships and promoting our success is very little.  It doesn't have to take a lot of time. We need to change our mental attitude to success, promotion and senior positions.  It's not just about being good at what you do, it's about being political, strategic and visionary about how you do it. So what do you need to change to achieve your full potential?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

What makes a Charismatic Leader?

Alex Salmond was voted as Man of the Year by the Times.

Whatever you think of his politics, he has been very successful at uniting his party. He headed a minority government from 2007 to 2011 and this year (2011) he won an overall majority. 

A great leader requires a simple, clear vision. At the recent Guardian Summit Allison Horner, Group Personnel Director at Tescos said all staff have a clear mantra: 

  • Know your stuff 
  • Show you care and 
  • Share a smile. 

A great vision statement means people at all the levels of the organisation know what to do to represent the company. 

It's not only CEOs that need a great vision. Increasingly in an entrepreneurial business world, managers need to have a vision and mission statement to give their staff clear guidelines to succeed. 

So why else was Alex Salmond voted man of the year? 

He's a former economist at Royal Bank of Scotland.  Financiers, industrialists, diplomats, cultural ambassadors, writers and academics all find him good company - he talks their language.

What he is is flexible. Able to discuss about things that interest THEM - not necessarily him. Don't be bamboozzeled by this - this strategy can easily be learnt. Know who you are meeting and prepare for it. If you're meeting a film director know the hottest film, if you're meeting a european Politician know what's happening with the Euro. 

Think what the person is intererested in and plan for the meeting.

Flexibility is also about how you speak - slowly, quickly, detail, big picture. Being able to modify your behaviour means you can clarify your relationships. 

So at the start of your year what's your vision? 

What can you do to be more flexible? In an Olympic year you need an Olympic attitude; train, research, practise, experiment then go for gold.

[Read more on The Guardian site] 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Assertiveness at Christmas

With Christmas coming up,  in-laws coming to stay and Christmas parties to go to,  assertiveness can be a great way to think and act to improve relationships. We learn to respect relationships and create win win solutions.

To be able to be assertive we need to firstly be aware of our body language and tone.  There is no use saying all the right things if the tone sounds aggressive or you start pointing your finger. Keep your tone positive and your body language open.

The next thing you need to be aware of are your habitual reactions.  Instead of reacting unconsciously you need to think before you react.  The best way to do this is to think what outcome you want from the situation.  Do you want to keep and improve the relationship?  If so you need to choose your reaction accordingly. You might need to think about how they want to be treated and modify your behaviour accordingly. So when your in laws leave what do you want them to say?

How could you influence your in-laws?  What kind of things do they like to do?  Do they like to take control in the kitchen but it drives you mad?  If so give them a project to do that they can be in control of. Do they like to be made a fuss of and don't help out with the things to do?  Ask them if they'd be willing to help with one thing - tell them before they come what it is. Then you make time to make a fuss of them when they least expect it.

So what is assertiveness?  Assertiveness is when you aim for both sides to win.  You have to listen out and ask what a win looks like and feels like for them.  Know what a win feels like and looks like for you and then take steps to compromise so you both get as clear to your outcome as you can.  Happy Christmas to you all!