Over the past seven years, we have had the privilege of having over 1500 hundred women go through our leadership programmes. The women have largely worked in the professions for large Blue Chip organisations and have been in the marshmallow layer, ready to take the next step into senior executive positions. In other words they are within the top 15% of employees within their organisation and already enjoying considerable success.
A significant proportion of these women also completed eve-olution’s 360 degree performance review, developed in 2004 and based on well researched leadership theory. We have utilised the aggregate data from these reviews to come to some conclusions about competency benchmarks for women leaders. This information is being made available to you as we believe it may be a helpful tool to assist with drawing up a developmental plan to progress your career to a more senior executive position.
The Authentic Leadership Model
There are five broad and interrelated dimensions of leadership in this model and they are Building Relationships, Developing Self, Leading Change, Leading People and Leading Performance. We call this model Authentic Leadership because we strongly believe that women and men bring different skills, traits and abilities to the table. We hope that this will encourage you to lead in your own style, even if that differs from the traditional male model.
Relationships are critical to any senior role. Your technological competence will get you a long way but your ability to form and nurture strategic relationships will be the key to your success in the long term. In relating upwards or downwards you need to know how to influence. Make sure that you have had some training and development in the area of influencing and negotiating plus development of your interpersonal skills. Bearing in mind that men and women, generally, tend to negotiate differently you need to make sure that your training includes this vital information. Also, take a look at your network. Is it political enough? As women we tend to focus on relationships with people that we like but we also need to make sure that we are nurturing relationships with people we don’t necessarily like but who we know can be useful professional contacts.
It goes without saying that those leaders who command respect are the ones who gain the most influence. How do we develop our personality to command respect? There is only one way to do this and that is to develop yourself. In order to lead others, we must first know how to lead ourselves. Yet how many of us take the time out to do this? In a time poor, process-driven world where output is king, the so called soft skills can be overlooked. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job!
Every business is currently going through change and every business needs employees who embrace and support change. It can be hard to be as flexible as the 21st century demands but it can be done. I am a firm believer in examining the 6 Human Needs to answer the question on how to be more comfortable with change. Ask yourself what you need most – certainty or uncertainty? Generally, people are more comfortable with certainty. Practise being outside of your comfort zone and being more comfortable with uncertainty. Try to reframe the process of change by seeing it as an opportunity rather than a threat.
When you are leading your team, are you considering diversity, managing conflict well with a win/win attitude and working hard to make sure that your team functions as a highly productive whole? Managing people is an art form and this is an area where you can easily learn strategies for doing so. However, this has to be balanced with your ability to lead by example and this goes back to respect and the leadership competency of Developing Self.
Profitability comes from high performance. How do you demonstrate accountability – both personally and from your team? How do you keep your team on track and focused on the goal? What do you need to know about the business, both formally and through your network? How is your financial literacy? Do you need to undertake an MBA? This is an area where business knowledge is key. Figure out what you need to know to perform and do what you need to do to get the requisite knowledge and know-how.
If you would like to know more about your individual leadership competencies we can help you with a practical step by step process. For a small fee you can take part in the 360 degree performance review and your scores will be mapped against the average scores for all the senior female leaders who have already taken part. One you have an idea of your strengths and weaknesses, as viewed by your team and line manager, we can offer follow-up coaching support to close the gap. Having the 360 degree report will give you something practical to work with over a long period of time. To take part click here.
To see the benchmark scores in all categories you, can download the free report.
Tracey Carr, CEO of eve-olution, has been working with women in leadership for the past 7 years and has run her flagship seminar Authentic Leadership (incorporating Gender IQ) for women all over Europe, in Asia and in the USA. She is also a Master Practitioner of NLP and a Professional Speaker.