The Woman Leader: Seven Tips for a Successful Journey
Women make up approximately 50% of the workforce. However, according to Catalyst Research and Lusk-Moore and Associates, women are exiting organizations at twice the rate of men. Reasons include lack of training, mentoring, support, and development. Today organizations must work harder to recruit and retain top female talent. Companies that offer opportunities for women to thrive will be rewarded for their efforts.
Below are seven tips that can empower and enable women in organizations.
- Successful women leaders realize the importance of a mentor. Research shows mentoring is one factor in success, if not the most important factor. Mentors are often seen as essential for the advancement of women. A mentor will help you determine what skills you need to develop to be successful. If your organization does not have an official mentoring program, ask your Human Resources Department to consider creating a mentor-mentee database of those willing to help employees interested in learning and developing. Be sure to ask advice from a number of people, even if you have an official mentor, as it is important to gain insight from diverse sources.
- Successful women leaders know how to get themselves seen. Look for opportunities to toot your own horn. Women often struggle with doing this, as they perceive it to be too self-promoting. We believe if we work hard enough we will be noticed and rewarded. Stop waiting for opportunities and create them! Ask your leader if you can attend meetings or work on projects of interest. Otherwise, you may be waiting for opportunities that never come or are given to others assertive enough to ask.
- Successful women leaders know how to develop an effective network. Traditionally, women have not been good at helping other women for fear it will limit their own success. Today, women’s networks have emerged in the corporate world and are a powerful presence. Make time to join organizations and attend functions that create links to other successful women. Networks play a key role in helping women gain confidence and knowledge, which are essential for career advancement.
- Successful women leaders have learned how to communicate effectively. Effective communication is a powerful tool as you advance. There are many different personality and communication styles and there is no single way to communicate effectively. It depends on the individual, the organization, the situation, and the goal. Effective communication depends on the understanding that what you are saying and how you say it may be different from someone else’s viewpoint. Flexibility and adaptability in this area are critical, especially for women, in order to facilitate success.
- Successful women leaders have learned how to integrate work and home life. Women need to have strategies for integration of work and home demands. Look for work styles that make it possible to integrate your career and your family. Schedule fun and leisure time. Otherwise, you become less effective and productive at both work and home. Seek advice from women leaders around you who are able to successfully manage it all.
- Successful women leaders know when to take smart risks. One of the key factors in women advancing in organizations is a willingness to take career risks. Work harder at overcoming your personal insecurities and realize without risk there is no reward. Maya Angelou said, “Courage allows a successful woman to fail and learn powerful lessons from that failure, so that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.” Mentors and networking groups can help women find the courage to face their fears and build the confidence they need to move forward.
- Successful women leaders understand the politics of the organization. Office politics are everywhere. Develop relationships that will help you successfully maneuver within the corporate culture. Decide which battles are worth fighting. Mentors can help. A study of male and female executives found that women, more than men, tended to gain self-confidence, useful career advice, counseling on organizational politics, and feedback about their weaknesses when in a mentoring situation.
The more women can do to set goals, take risks, and look for opportunities to develop and challenge themselves the more successful their journeys will become. The more organizations can do to support women in their journey, the more successful everyone becomes!
Dr. Hope Zoeller is Founder and President of HOPE (Helping Other People Excel), llc, a leadership development and executive coaching firm. HOPE specializes in leadership and professional development for leaders at every level of an organization. For over 13 years of her professional career, Dr. Zoeller worked at UPS in various roles including Customer Service, Training and Development and Employee Relations. For the past 10 years, she has been consulting with organizations on leadership development and executive coaching. Dr. Zoeller is also a Professor at Webster University instructing in their Master of Human Resource program and Spalding University instructing in the Master of Business Communication program. She has a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Spalding University, a Master of Education in Training and Development from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Psychology from Bellarmine University.
Dr. Zoeller lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband Dr. Joe DeSensi. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel and yoga.
Dr. Hope Zoeller will be speaking next week at our Louisville Women’s Leadership Conference