Women as Leaders-Redefining leadership

At the start of the year I was looking for a women leader’s network on meet up in London, UK. I wanted to broaden my networking and speaking opportunities and this seemed like a good place to start. There are lots of meet ups for women entrepreneurs but nothing for the women leaders I know that exist. So I decided to set one up. Membership is building slowly, but some of the feedback I have received is that some women business owners don’t regard themselves as CEOs, and even more pointedly, some women CEOS are almost embarrassed by the title. Is this really true, and if so, rather sad?

In the UK, we’ve had a woman Prime Minister-Margaret Thatcher. Currently, all the political parties are led by men and only the Labour Party has a woman deputy; Harriet Harman whose title is Shadow Deputy Prime Minster.

The only women running FTSE 100 companies are Moya Green at Royal Mail, Carolyn McCall at easyjet, Angela Ahrendts formerly at Burberry now joining Apple, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Liv Garfield soon to be joining Severn Trent from BT.

In the public sector, the figures are marginally better. In a recent report Sex and Power 2013, 32% of councillors in the UK are women, and only 12.3% are council leaders and 13.3% are elected mayors. In 2012, 22.9% of local authority chief executives were women.

There are many reasons for such disparity in the numbers of men and women in senior positions. Culture of the organisation; many boards are led by men in most sectors and therefore decision-making rests with the majority presence. Also, some women don’t believe they are good enough to be the CEO or ‘the one at the front’ so don’t apply for such key posts. Also, the myth that ‘you can have it all’, the career, family and a life doesn’t help. I’m not saying you can’t, but it is challenging and requires a lot of juggling and probably additional support. A change in mindset for many organisations too.

In response, women are increasingly starting their own businesses, because it gives them the flexibility of when they work, who they work with and in conditions that suit them better. Some want to include motherhood and having a family, and some just want to get off the corporate ladder which is probably not taking them anywhere fast! Others are working part-time and want to start small businesses to support them.

So, the statistics tell us that we aren’t making our presence felt enough in the market place. Yet, our male counterparts have no difficulty with titles and going after what they want, and that includes more pay and more senior  positions.

So how can we change attitudes to women in leadership? A woman leader is not a bad thing.

I do think we have to modify our thinking about ourselves and these positions. Note, I didn’t say CHANGE.

To be the CEO, director, or leader requires confidence and self-belief. not just self-confidence, but confidence in one’s ability.

  1. Confidence to take decisions. If you get it wrong or not the outcome you were seeking, you’ll handle it.
  2. Confident of who you are.Try not be so affected by what people think of you. It’s true, they may not like you (for a host of reasons, over which you have no control) but that doesn’t stop you from doing your job.
  3. Confident that you are going in the right direction. You have to lead from the front. Create a vision and enrol your management team and staff in the vision and what it will mean for them and the organisation.
  4. Confident in your abilities and strengths. You have the skills, experience, knowledge and so on, and it is alright to know that and use them. Don’t apologise for having an MBA or being qualified.
  5. Confidence that you cannot do this alone, get the right support and then, this can be so much easier.
This is not a finite list, just some of the key characteristics I have observed in the women CEOs with whom I work, who are good leaders but want to be great leaders and create extraordinary results for themselves and their organisations. What characteristics would you add to this list?
If any of this has resonated with you, please like or share this post and leave a comment below.
Also, if you would like more information about how to go from being a good leader to great, contact me.

 

Great leadership: it starts with a strong reason

We have just celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March. We celebrated women’s achievements. My examples include Emmeline Pankhurst and Malali Joya, also Rosa Parks and Oprah Winfrey.

What do these women have in common? They are leaders. They are women who, in spite of adversity and their situation, were courageous. Emmeline Pankurst was a suffragette who campaigned for the rights of women to have the vote in England. Rosa Parks was a Black woman, who refused to sit at the back of the bus in segregated America. Malali Joya stood up to the Taliban, so girls could receive an education and almost lost her life as a result. Oprah Winfrey was a poor little Black girl, who was also sexually abused, and is now the only African American billionaire on the Forbes list. Her background and upbringing did not dictate her future.

What about you? Are you a woman CEO or senior manager? What do you need to do, to go from a good to a great leader of your organisation or department?

You need to be clear about your ‘why’ and your purpose, and if you have lost sight of those, then you need to reconnect to them.

I can help you. Contact me to arrange a complimentary leadership discovery call. This call is for you if you know you want support in achieving your success at work.

Happy New Year Resolutions

2014 fireworks2014 was ushered in with fireworks over the Thames with plenty of excitement and maybe anticipation. http://buff.ly/1g0ksYm

Anticipation because we wondered would 2014 be better than 2013 and would we enjoy this year more and achieve what we set out to do?

Achieve what?

Some of you will have made resolutions between the hangover on 1 Jan, that we were giving up something or starting something, or being something new. However, today for some of you, those resolutions have been broken and maybe forgotten.

Great start to another year!

So what can you do differently and how can you rescue those resolutions?

First of all, you need a dose of reality. If you have been doing whatever it is you want to stop, for a while, say a few years, you will not achieve that fantastic turnaround in a few days. Honestly!

Start with your WHY. Why do you want to make those changes? Why is that important to you? And why is THAT important to you. You may need to ask yourself this question a couple of times. Write down your answers. Also, what will be the impact to you, your family/friends etc if you DON’T achieve it? This is the killer question. If you don’t care and nobody else does either, WHY are you doing this and setting yourself up for failure. Change something that is IMPORTANT to you.

Next!

Start slowly. Reduce, decrease, lessen your activity. Get used to the reduction in this activity. Conversely, if the desire is to increase your activity, start slowly and make incremental changes.

Examples:

Stopping smoking? Reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day. When you’re comfortable with that reduction, reduce again.

Taking up exercise, when you were previously a couch potato? Start with walking to the end of the street, or 2 streets. Whatever, you feel comfortable with to begin. As your confidence increases, step up the activity. (No pun intended!)

Finally, celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. That is how you keep your motivation going.

You can try this yourself, and let me know how you get on.

If you want to implement bigger changes email me to find out you can make them successfully.

Happy new year!

How understanding your WHY can lead to your success

Start with whyWhen I’m working with my coaching and consulting clients, I always ask them this question: ‘what is your why?’. I use this question to get them to focus on the reason or motivation for their projects and dreams.

Your why is what gets you out of bed and at your desk every morning. It can also be the reason that you are running on the treadmill at the gym. ‘Why’ isn’t confined to work or sport, we have a why for everything we do. But what can happen is that we lose the connection we had to it, and then we flounder or panic and say  ‘I don’t know what to do!’

Simon Sinek is the author of ‘Start with why-how great leaders inspire everyone to take action’ and he examines how some businesses like Apple have a following that differs from Nokia. He says it’s about their why, because that is what we buy. We identify with their values and aims. Other companies such as Nokia lost their connection to their why and that is reflected in their current situation.

So, if you have lost your connection to your why, take some time to think about

‘What was it that initially inspired me to do this and why was it important to me?

Dig deep if necessary to find that connection, if it matters to you, and once you have re-established your connection, remind your self regularly about your WHY.

I am talking at City Business Library in London on 30 January 2014 on this subject. For further details and to book a place: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-understanding-your-why-can-lead-to-your-success-tickets-9569170647

ACEVO Pay Survey: Women CEOs still earn less than men

The latest Pay Survey by ACEVO shows women CEOs lag  behind their male colleagues in salary, by about 18.6%.

The average pay for a male CEO is £67,000 and for a woman is £54,530.

Men are also twice as likely to hold the top job at the UK’s largest charities, because women tend to lead smaller charities.

How has  that arisen? Are women less confident at interview or not as ambitious as their male counterparts, or is the selection of suitable candidates skewed in favour of men? I don’t believe that there aren’t enough qualified women candidates.

Is it a coincidence that the chairs of charities are mainly male (69%) and just over 3/4 of them are aged 55 and over? What impact does that have on recruitment?

One other interesting result from the ACEVO survey is that 97% of the respondent CEOs are white, which is an increase on years 2012 and 2011, again diversity is woeful here too.

This sector is often regarded as the ‘softer’ sector in comparison to the private sector, however, based on these findings, I would suggest that opinion to be outdated.

Moving forward, I think any women candidates aspiring to move up to the larger charities will have to ‘up their game’. Reviewing their skills and experience, what are the gaps? Also, what about your ‘softer’ skills such as confidence and self-belief-do they require a boost or enhancement?

If you would like to have a free conversation about enhancing your skills, please get in touch with me here. I’d love to have a chat with you.

Do you need motivation?

It’s the beginning of November and there are less than 60 days left until the end of the year.

What have you been meaning to start and still haven’t got round to doing it?

What project were you going to start after the summer?

What challenge are you going to start and finish before Christmas?

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I have seen lots of challenges online. 30 day business improvement, 30 day mind cleanse, 30 day detox diet, 30 day fitness challenge. You get the picture?

So, if the thought of committing to something scares you and that’s why you’ve been procrastinating, how does a 30 day challenge sound? Or how about a 7 day challenge? Too much?

Research says that if you want to change a habit or adopt a new one, then you need to commit to it for 21 days.

If you’re serious about changing something in your life, when do you think you can start? I’d suggest right now. Do one day at a time. See if you can continue for 7 days and if you do, continue for another 7 days and so on until the end of November.

There is no magic formula, just start. What’s the worse that could happen?  You may not get it right at first and only you know what ‘right’ means, but if you refuse to give up, and just keep going, you will find your rhythm and the errors you believe you’re making, may not seem so important or even exist. Perfection is not the desired outcome, ACTION is what you want, and with that you will achieve the results you desire. You can’t fail.

I can assure you that doing nothing will guarantee that you do not achieve the success you desire.

Begin today. Let me know how you get on in the comments box below. If you’d like some help in starting, contact me for a free 30 minute coaching call.