How Female Business Leaders Succeed

How Female Business Leaders Succeed

Most organizations would acknowledge that they don't have enough female leaders. 

Most organizations would acknowledge that they don't have enough female leaders. For this reason, women are still underrepresented in the corporate pipeline at every level.

Corporations realize that gender diversity is not just a nice thing to have but also makes excellent business sense. Organizations with more diverse leadership teams consistently outperform those without such groups.

Having that diversity, especially at the top, is critical in terms of decision-making and organizational success.

According to Colombia Business School, the cost of leaky pipelines is huge: failure to focus further down the pipeline means that women will still represent only 40% of the workforce at the professional level and above by 2025.

But not everything is bad news. CEO commitment to gender diversity is high: 74% of companies report that gender diversity is a top CEO priority. This is a global issue, with Asia being the lowest in women's representation in executive ranks. However, they're projected to have the most inadequate representation of women in 2025, reaching only 28% at the professional level and above, given current hiring, promotion, and retention rates.

In Europe, women will make up only 37% of those at the professional level, and above the same percentages. In North America, there has been an improvement. However, women are still being hired at lower rates at executive positions.

Also read: Pay inequality: the gender pay gap in an anonymous online labor market

Columbia Business School has a program that prepares women leaders for success by teaching them how to become their own best advocates, build influence, and galvanize change. A successful female leader embraces the art of self-promotion in which they will stop attributing their success to external factors such as luck and being helped by others.

Some ways to own your success are:

-Keep a running record of your achievements.

-Avoid deflecting praise or being self-deprecating.

-Engage in "good bragging"- share anecdotes that portray your success.

-Own your accomplishment, and communicate your appreciation.

-Smile and say thank you.

Another piece of advice from the institution is to communicate with power and influence. To do this, shift your body language: invoke your vertical, change your body language to change how you feel, and experiment with expensive poses and constrictive poses. Women need to use situational judgment for when to "play high" (authoritative) or "play low" (approachable).

Finally, don't hesitate to negotiate. Women are less likely to negotiate because they believe they'll be viewed unfavorably because traditional expectations are communal and collaborative. Female leaders increase success when a proposal is framed in terms of collective benefit (team, organization, etc.). Try saying, "for us!"

Some things to consider for this point are: you won't get what you don't ask for, change the frame of negotiation from adversarial to problem-resolving (collaborative), and prepare for any negotiation: why, how, whom.

A 2010 survey conducted by Accenture found that more than two-thirds of executives surveyed rated resilience as being "very extremely important" to their work.

Women leaders can be catalysts for their own and their organization's success. Practice resilience and draw upon your strength: permit yourself to fail, be aware of an attribution error, and find your resilient zone (practice power posing and breathing).

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