The rise of female leaders in the world is improving at a slow but fairly steady pace. We have seen many incredibly driven women become catalysts for change by taking charge in their respective field. However, a question remains: how do we get future world leaders, decision-makers and even thought leaders to fuel the flame ignited by the amazing women before them? In the previous article of our Cultivating Women Leaders series, we discussed where we stand globally with women in power. Now we’ll demonstrate how women can rise up and break down barriers through two important aspects that help them become leaders: guidance and structure.
For many women, advancing in her career or venturing off to start her own business comes to a halt because they don’t know where to to start. Guidance, in the form of mentors or influencers, may be key to cultivating leadership abilities. According to a KPMG Women's Leadership Study, 67 percent of respondents say they had learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women and 82 percent believe that access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their career. 88 percent of these women also note that when they see more women in leadership roles, they feel encouraged that they can get there themselves. Bottomline--women who have some form of guidance from other female leaders benefit greatly in terms of leadership motivation and growth.
But where do you start looking for guidance? Chances are you already know someone who you admire for their career ambition and/or leadership skills. The intimidating part is reaching out and asking for advice. However, if you don’t have someone in your network to look up to, there are alternative ways to find a mentor. Companies like Career Contessa and The Muse offer services that allow you to hire a mentor who specializes in your target field. For those who prefer a less one-on-one route, you can start by finding thought leaders in your industry who motivate you. Follow the content they share with the community: it’s as easy as reading their blog posts, watching interviews or discussions, or reading their latest book. LinkedIn allows users to follow influencers on its platform and keep up with the latest things they’re doing.
Guidance is just a piece of the leadership-building puzzle. A survey shows that almost six in ten working women believe leadership training and confidence-building will help move more women into leadership roles. That’s 60 percent of respondents who believe that training workshops would help women build the confidence to lead. Some women go further by finding a structure to help them in the process. What’s the difference between guidance and structure? Structure means a group or an organization that will help you grow as a leader in your field of interest.
There are many organizations out there that help women find confidence in their leadership skills through workshops and conferences. Organizations like She Should Run and Vote Run Lead help women become political leaders in their communities. Leadership-specific career development courses help women advance in their career. Other less formal ways of finding structure include attending events and meeting with other like-minded people. Meet Up is a website that connects you with others who have similar interests--including tech and digital marketing. Similarly, Levo League hosts local networking events in a number of cities that connect you with other professional women in a variety of industries.
There is plenty of opportunity to cultivate female leaders, now that there are more programs and resources available. However, not every woman is aware of what’s there to help her get started. We need to encourage more women, including ourselves, to recognize their full leadership potential and seek out the opportunities to nourish it. Are you up for the challenge?
This article is the second article of our two-part Cultivating Women Leaders series. In case you missed out on the first article on where we are with women leaders in the world, you can check it out here.
By: Shanice Perriatt