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Women In Leadership – Is It Possible?

Let’s not kid ourselves! This is a man’ s world. And the world of business has been designed by men for men. As a result, when women do become leaders they can too often fall into playing a man’ s game, by rules that are not congruent with their natural instincts or strengths.

In Australia, we are embarking on an important decision for our future. But are we truly ready for a female Prime Minister? And, whilst we are at choice about which party we prefer, whether we like it or not, we are also being confronted with thechoice of male leadership or female leadership. No different to the USA when they were given the opportunity to choose a black president over a white president.

The reality is that in Australia only 11 percent of senior executive roles are held by women, and only 2 percent of CEO’s are women! Arguably the only job where woman are paid more than men is in prostitution. Is there a clear message here?

Of course I could fill this article with tips and tools to help you learn how to develop women into leaders in your workplace; and if you are a female manager or entrepreneur, I could equally advise you about how to forge ahead in your own career. However, this will not address the core issue, it will only do a band-aid job to cover up the symptoms.

Another way of putting this: if you keep having headaches you can address the symptoms by continuing to take Panadol or you could address the root cause of theheadache by treating the cause and prevent getting headaches again.

So, how can you address the female leadership issue in your business?

To do this effectively I want to highlight two areas:

  1. Your business environment
  2. The role model

There are plenty of great women who’d make great leaders. However, the issue is that even when you recruit such leaders they are often suffocated and frustrated by the environment.

If you’ re a business who is serious about cultivating women as leaders, then you would need to ask a simple, but a powerful question “Have we got an environment that will support women as leaders?” In order for women to succeed, it is important tocreate the foundations that are conducive for women to be leaders.

A good analogy to demonstrate this point is to look to a simple farmer. If the farmer wants to grow barley or wheat, then they would need to prepare the soil that will be suitable for such a crop. It’ s not about having soil that can only grow rice or corn!

Therefore, to bring women leaders into a business environment that is more suited for men is a recipe for disaster. Men and women have two very different ways of going about building a business or a department. If your organisation is more suited formen at the helm, then this environment will end up becoming less than supportive to women as leaders.

We are seeing a fundamental shift from the ground up with the business-world beginning to understand that there really is a difference in the way women and menoperate, and what they bring to a leadership role. And, the more businesses are prepared to create an environment that will support both leadership styles, the morewe will see women taking the helm.

This brings me to the subject of who are the role models for women to aspire to.  Unfortunately, Julia Gillard hasn’t been in this position long enough and the jury is still out.  If we look to Hillary Clinton, maybe this is a better example of a leader who is demonstrating the quality of women in a leadership role.

Hillary Clinton had more support and sympathy when she shared her true self in showing her emotions in New Hampshire. And whilst crying is very natural to women, given that their female tear glands are 60 percent larger, did the showing of her emotions make her any less of a leader?

From an individual perspective, my invitation to you is to consider whether or not your business is ready and willing to provide the opportunity for women to become leaders within your business. And, if you are ready, then start creating an environment that will support this to happen. Then, identify the most suitable role models for your business.

Louise Woodbury
louise@InvisiblePartnership.com

Author of The Invisible Partnership, The Invisible Branson & The Invisible Entrepreneur

Republication of Invisible Partnership articles are permitted, given the original link and author are referenced. High resolution photos can be provided upon request.

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