Getting into the leadership pipeline: advancing women in leadership

executive-534415_1280Earlier this week, the Royal bank of Scotland set a target for one third of its top 600 management roles to be held by women by 2020.

The world we live in and in which organisations operate are diverse and senior management positions should reflect this. A world in which women make up about half of the population and who can offer depth and breadth of insight, perspective and experience. The business case for gender diversity is strong and well established.

The lack of women in senior roles has been under scrutiny since 2011 when Mervyn Davies, set a goal to double the number of women in boardrooms to 25% by 2015 in FTSE 100 companies

Although women now make up more than 20% of boardroom roles, the majority of these are non-executives, with only 7% of executive roles being held by women

Success is when more women are in executive directorship roles as this is often where the real power lies.

To get more women onto boards and into senior management positions, requires a pipeline of talent to draw from.

Organisations, like the RBS, need to be proactive in succession planning and talent management to develop and nurture a pipeline of talent to enable women (and men) to progress into senior positions.

This means applying a bottom up approach and ensuring that women who want to progress are supported, mentored and coached on the way there. More women are likely to put themselves forward for such a career trajectory if they can see that there is path there and others are following it.

 What can you do to advance as a woman leader?  

Don’t wait for your organisation to take steps, take control and be proactive in getting yourself up the leadership ladder with these 6 suggestions

 1Claim your ambition for leadership

Let it be known that you are interested in leadership roles and talk about your ambitions and aspirations when relevant and appropriate. Plan your career trajectory and get as much broad business experience as possible. Look for opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone. Volunteer for assignments or offer to lead a project that will stretch you and offer new experiences and ways of working

2. Grasp opportunities

When opportunities present themselves, refrain from falling into the trap of trying to rationalise and make assumptions about what they might entail and subsequently talking yourself out of it.
If you find a role that offers progression, don’t be put off that because you can only tick 7 out of the 10 criteria boxes, you don’t stand a chance. Go for it

3. Raise your profile and market yourself

Get known by marketing yourself. Let others know about successes, achievements and ambitions without bragging. Don’t leave it to chance that your work or accomplishments will speak for itself and as a result others will notice.

Don’t be afraid to speak up, stand your ground, stand for something and share your perspectives. Do so in a way which respects other people’s points of views. Being able to communicate with impact and in public is a prized leadership skill

4. Be visible

 Networks and connections are a great source of influence. Engage in networking activities outside of your organisation. It can provide role models that may be missing in your own organisation. It will also give you insights into different organisations and a foot in the door for future job prospects. Seek out people with influence who may be able to connect you with others or be able to provide formal or informal mentoring. Build your online visibility and brand on LinkedIn.

5. Develop your leadership brand

Identify your strengths and areas for development by undertaking a 360 appraisal and get feedback and use areas for development and successes as food for continual learning and development.
Work on developing an ‘authentic you’ so that you lead, communicate and build relationships in way that is unique to you. Build on this personal brand so that you are constantly developing the ‘best you’ and making your mark.

6. Get use to working at board level

Volunteer for board roles – this could be as a governor in a school or hospital, a community group, charity….this will enable you to build your skills in governance, risk management and develop board level skills.

Find out if your organisation will allow you to hold external directorships – there are many in the public, not-for-profit or third sector organizations which.

Image via Pixabay


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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