Female leadership is not a new concept in the workplace.
In fact, female leadership has been celebrated in many different respects. But interestingly, female leaders are still a minority.
Despite plenty of recent gains, female leaders are still massively outnumbered by their male counterparts on a global scale.
What can we do about it?
We have many amazing female leaders paving the way right here in the UK. By empowering them via female leadership coaching, they can help other female professionals join them in shattering the glass ceiling.
Here’s how we can do it.
The Power of a Female Leader
Research shows us that women in leadership positions can have a huge positive impact on their surroundings. They could be global leaders – as an example, research from The Guardian indicates that countries with female leaders did better during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Or, they could be women in the boardroom – a study from McKinsey showed that companies with gender-diverse boardrooms outperform others, and having more female board members equates to above-average performance. Or they could simply be a great female manager making changes within her own workplace.
The UK is improving when it comes to the number of women in top roles, but there is still work to be done. Recent data from the government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review shows that almost 40% of board positions in FTSE 100 companies are held by women, with numbers increasing in FTSE 200 and 350 companies too.
BUT, it’s important to note that a good proportion of that 40% are still in non-executive roles – independent non-executive directors rather than executive directors within the organization. Just one in three leadership roles and a quarter of executive committee roles were filled by women.
You can look at this disparity in two ways. For many women, a leadership role can be fulfilling and challenging. Yet it can also be daunting and stressful. Being a lone female voice among male counterparts can be hard.
So, female leaders can only be powerful influences if they take the time to fill their own cups. Part of doing that is having the right support – female leadership development coaching can help with this.
Effective Female Leaders Can Pave The Way For Others
Role models are powerful motivators. As an effective leader, you can create a culture of empowerment for other women in your organisation. Once you are more confident in your leadership style and can adapt it appropriately, you can work to create the same opportunities for other women.
Whether it is simply sharing your story or practical help, a great female leader can help to:
- Create a precedent within an organisation for women holding higher-level roles
- Create networking opportunities for women
- Offer mentoring opportunities and help other women build confidence
- Advocate for changes that will encourage women in the workforce such as improved parental leave or flexible working hours
As an HR director or manager, particularly, you can help to influence policies in your organisation that create better opportunities for recruiting and retaining women – including talent development and leadership training opportunities.
Effective Male Leaders Can Be Strong Advocates
I have personally worked with several male leaders who were exceptionally strong in calling out inequalities and establishing a level playing field for female leaders in their organisations.
Whether it is simply sharing your story or practical help, a great male leader can help to:
- Call out micro-aggressions and sexist behaviour, however unintended that behaviour might have been
- Amplify ideas from female team members by giving them time in meetings or by throwing your support behind ideas
- Adapt legacy networking and social practices to be more inclusive – within the last 10 years I have had to call out the inappropriateness of a team event that was planning to end up in a strip club
- Be more vocal and present about the even split of childcare responsibilities – ask for flexible working or part-time work and be proud of that being part of your role as a working parent
As an HR director or manager, you can help to influence policies in your organisation that create a more balanced approach to supporting women in promotion decisions. Run analytics regularly to compare pay rise and promotion % awards for men and women. This will help to surface unconscious bias.
How to Be a Good Leader
What makes a strong leader? Strong leadership pulls from three core pillars – managing self managing others, and managing business outcomes. By mastering these pillars, you can understand how you can make an impact on others and the business as a whole.
Successful leaders start with strong self-awareness. If you are aware of your own strengths and behaviours, then you can ensure you create the right environment for performance. By leading from a place of self-awareness, you can inspire others to do the same. Collectively, you can then create positive business outcomes.
When you are in the midst of day-to-day management tasks, gaining this self-awareness without outsider’s perspective can be hard. That is where leadership coaching comes in.
Support in Your Leadership Role Can Make All The Difference
In business, women still suffer from obstacles such as unconscious bias where colleagues or superiors assume they will not be capable of or want to take on a role, or other obstacles like work-life balance and likeability factor.
What makes a leader? Many women in senior roles also struggle to find their authentic leadership style. Women who speak out are often labelled bossy, which can lead to them withdrawing from further debate or no longer putting ideas forward. But women who are quieter can be seen as weak and not decisive.
While these obstacles make leadership challenging, they do not make it insurmountable. Leadership coaching can help you develop your authentic style, giving you the skills and tools to become a more effective leader while not losing yourself in the process.
Female Leadership Coaching
As mentioned earlier, one of the core pillars of leadership is managing self. Self-awareness helps you to understand your strengths and learn how you can adapt your leadership style to suit the needs of the individuals under you.
It can also help you understand your feelings towards your role as a leader and towards those women lower than you. You may not realise it but subconsciously, you may be discouraging them rather than raising them up. Or you may be holding them to higher standards than their male colleagues. This unconscious bias is understandable. If you had to work hard to get to where you are, then you might feel everyone else should work that hard too. Being aware of those feelings helps you move beyond them.
Female leadership coaching gives you the skills and the confidence to lead by example and bring out the best in your team or employees. It helps you to ditch the imposter syndrome and become more confident in your role, which in turn flows down to your staff.
I offer leadership coaching that helps you lead with impact and presence while staying in touch with your team, being engaging and collaborative. To discuss whether leadership coaching is right for you, get in touch with me today.