With more women acquiring higher education than ever before, the opportunity to drive greater women’s leadership in organizations is huge. But it is rife with challenges as well, especially that of the ‘Hollow Middle’. It is well known that large numbers of women drop out at mid- management level, leaving few women to promote internally and accentuating the shortage of senior women leaders as role models.
Cultural, individual and organizational factors come together causing women at the mid- management level mostly to drop out/stall in their careers. Cultural factors such as societal expectations, unconscious biases and organizational factors such as pay parity and flexible working options which impede development of women’s leadership must be addressed through intensive, sustained communication, training and policy initiatives.
However, there are also factors at the individual level which need to be addressed – the transition related challenge of women leaders. This can help in bringing about genuine women’s leadership development. The particular challenges of developing women leaders at the mid-career level are:
Women’s Leadership Development Programs – Interventions to strengthen the Pipeline of Women Leaders, addresses the above problems at the individual and organizational level. It is not just another diversity initiative – but a focused effort at preparing Hi-Potential women managers and leaders for the next level. This is a pivot point in ensuring real diversity and inclusion, because the chances of leakage of female talent in organizations is also highest at the mid-career level.
HOW OUR WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IS DIFFERENT : Most initiatives for preparing women leaders focus largely on the functional challenges of leadership such as improving their business acumen through more sophisticated understanding of strategy, financial reporting and monitoring, negotiating and gaining influence. However, it is our experience (including of personally having grown as women leaders) of working with women leaders, that at the crucial transition point of going from mid-management to senior leadership, emotional preparation and self-awareness are as important to address. This ensures deep and lasting leadership capability enhancement for women.
Women in mid-senior roles. Our programs are suited for women who
Most of the women leaders in our programs tend to be functionally, emotionally at a Transition point, where significant career decisions and changes in own leadership style are waiting to be made . In our conversations with several mid-management level women, some of the things we have heard about their experience and the difficulty of growing to the next level of leadership are
“I am not sure what kind of role I want and even if I do, if the organization will support me.”
“I want to understand my own working style and that of others better, so that I can be more effective.”
“I want to learn to feel powerful – even though I know that I can deliver and have delivered, I still don’t demonstrate that. I want to be able to change that”
The key takeaways from our Women’s Leadership Development program are in the areas of Self Awareness, System Awareness and strong connections within and across the organization leading to:
Organizations too get positively impacted through women’s leadership development. According to research by McKinsey & Co, women leaders tend to apply the leadership behaviours that improve organizational performance more often than men do, enhancing organizational health and hence sustained performance.
Such behaviours, including inspiration, participative decision making, people development and role modeling are also more relevant for solving future global challenges.
Our interventions for strengthening women leadership capability, by addressing both functional and emotional challenges of leadership lead to the following benefits for the organization
Our women’s leadership development programs use a powerful, experiential methodology that truly works. The programs entail workshops, 1-1 coaching and peer coaching which are based on extensive leadership development research, neuroscience, positive psychology enabling the following: