Monday, December 18, 2017

It’s Time for Women to Step Up and Stand Out

The number of women holding leadership positions in the workplace has increased globally over the past 10 years. Yet few have made it to that coveted top position of CEO. Consider these statistics from a recent Grant Thornton study:
·         One third (33%) of global businesses had no women in senior management roles, a number which has not changed since 2011.
·         At this rate of change, women will not reach parity with men until 2060. 

Why is that? The answer, as suggested by a LinkedIn report – Moving the Needle for Women Leaders – may surprise you: Timing and Mindset.

Apparently, the window of opportunity for women to be promoted into leadership is much shorter than that of men. In fact, after about 10 years into her career, the more experience a woman has the less likely she is to become a leader. The report data shows that “the sweet spot for women taking on a leadership role is somewhere between 10 and 15 years of being in the workforce.” Men, on the other hand, have 20 or 30 years to strive for leadership roles. So, is it employer bias or personal choice that creates the timing barrier? The report authors aren’t sure, but point out that “it brings to light a glaring gap in our ability to nurture, develop and actively focus on female leadership.”

Clearly that focus needs to start early.

LinkedIn looked at the top attributes of female leaders today (based on the most common skills in LinkedIn profiles) and found that women are noted for their management, leadership and strategic planning skills above all else. Yet for some reason it seems that many women lack confidence in these skills. Women are 31% “more likely than men to question whether they have what it takes to advance in a leadership position.”  It seems this “mindset deficit” is already there when women enter the workforce, and continues into mid-career. Here’s how women and men compare in three key leadership mindsets – aspiration, confidence, and endurance.

At entry-level
·         65% of women aspire to reach a top leadership position compared to 72% of men
·         63% of women are confident they can get there, while 75% of men feel that way
·         62% of women say they have the endurance needed to get to the top, while 70% of men claim it

At mid-career
·         55% of women show aspiration, compared to 64% of men
·         57% of women demonstrate confidence, compared to 66% of men
·         68% of women show endurance, compared to 77% of men

This report shows that while some strides have been made in leadership roles for women, females remain highly underrepresented in technical careers and in the C-suite. Organizations need to acknowledge that promoting more women to top leadership roles is good for business. In fact, companies with more women throughout the corporate structure are more profitable, and companies with female CEOs record better stock market returns.

Organizations also need to provide women with the training, coaching and opportunities to achieve the right mindset to become top leaders.

At Lumina, we are already addressing this need through a new Women’s Leadership Series – Step Up to Stand Out, that I’ll be facilitating starting next month. This powerful leadership series is designed by women for women to help them develop the passion, courage and determination to get where they want to be. Step Up to Stand Out focuses on the unique experiences of women to develop the critical skills necessary for success in business and in life. It will help you reframe any limiting beliefs and overcome your fears. As a result, you will develop the ability to flexibly adapt to, engage and influence others through effective communication, savvy behavior, and emotional agility.

Our first session of this highly-interactive program starts in January in Boston. It will include three 2-day sessions held between January and April, the Lumina Spark and Lumina Emotion assessments, and peer coaching assignments.

You can find more information and register here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Building Resilient Leaders by Embracing Failure

Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” In other words, be resilient.

In today’s ever-changing, highly competitive and sometimes brutal world of business, leaders are called upon to “keep going” even in the face of monumental failure. And although it may seem like hell, experiencing failure and developing the skills and strength to forge through it, builds resilience, and ultimately leads to success.

What is a resilient leader?
A resilient leader is someone who sees failure as a learning opportunity. They are able to manage ambiguity, and readily adapt to changing circumstances and requirements. Resilient leaders tend to have a growth mindset, meaning that they realize they are still learning, embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and see efforts as a pathway to mastery. The opposite of this is a fixed mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset is not open to learning – they believe they already know it all. They are all about “looking smart,” and they avoid challenges and obstacles that might prove otherwise. They avoid negative feedback, even when it might be useful. 

Resilient leaders:
Look for the positive. Resilient leaders focus on the positive in people and in situations. They don’t overlook or ignore potential downsides or issues, but spend their energy on workarounds and solutions rather than worrying about what might go wrong.

See failure as an opportunity. Resilient leaders learn from their mistakes. They reframe failure as another opportunity to get it right, or as a sign they need to take an alternative approach.

Are coachable. Resilient leaders seek and act upon feedback. They admit their mistakes and model an attitude of learning from those mistakes. This, in turn, helps individuals on their team be more willing to risk trying something new.

Manage adversity. Resilient leaders are able to push through adversity and resistance. They figure out a way to overcome problems, and they get back up when they fall. Every time. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t often comes down to a moment in time – when they want to give up, but instead kick through the wall of resistance and find what they are looking for right on the other side.

Get outside their comfort zone. Resilient leaders recognize that to overcome adversity and break through any barriers that may be preventing them from moving forward, they need to push themselves beyond their comfort level.  

Champion change. Resilient leaders embrace change and are able to provide the leadership and motivation for others to join them in adapting to the change. They provide a clear vision, and through their confidence they inspire others to work toward that vision.

How to build resilient leaders in your organization
In addition to helping your leaders develop the above characteristics, provide them with this framework to help build their resilience. 

When a project or deadline fails, explore these three options each time.  If you are in the business of growing leaders, review this with them in your next coaching or review meeting with them:
  1. What went wrong?
  2. What would you change next time?
  3. What early signs would be your markers next time for adjustments? 

 “The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” – Nelson Mandela