A topic precious to my heart, as a woman, as a leader, as a manager, as an entrepreneur, as a board member and as a mother. It has been a long time since I created the program, Women in the lead, to give women a safe space to reflect on where they wanted to go, their next level in their career, in terms of recognition, promotion, specific files, or anything else they wanted to be filled. I started my program with 4 questions.
In amplifying your chances of driving your career and avoiding common mistakes made by women with regards to career.
- How does your perspective on your career change?
- How does your life change?
- Who benefits from this change?
- Who are you?
The objective of these questions was to plant a seed in their mind so they continuously ask themself these questions, what it meant for them and how they could propel their career. How can you, as a manager, support women leadership development in your teams?
I interviewed Caroline Codsi, Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada | UN Women Award | 2X TEDx Speaker | Founder Women in Governance. Who other than Caroline to have a conversation on women in leadership? She shares the path and passion that brought her to find Women in governance and the different strengths men and women bring to leadership. To her, there are a lot of very clear things that can be done for organizations to allow women to progress. Let’s review 5 keys I believe can help you do that.
Deliver the strategic mission of your role
Defining the strategic mission of our role is a pivotal element which bring increased value and recognition of your work! When we want to be perfect and super productive (like women often do), we tend to stick to operations and forget the strategic and authentic input we bring to our role. It is important to stay focused on annual strategic priorities and identify why it is important to deliver these priorities. Can you identify at least one opportunity within your current projects that impact on business or financial strategy? Also, ask yourself which activities can or should be done only by YOU, using your personality. What else can be delegated or eliminated?
Strengthen your Unique strategic contribution (USC)
The Unique Strategic Contribution (USC) allows you to determine your true value, at its highest strategic level, i.e. what only you, yourself need to accomplish within your organization. It is the element you will need to focus on to create the impact and value you want to have. Once you are clear on your USC, you can identify at least 1 action to reinforce where are you not playing at the right level. I suggest you ask yourself what mindset shit you need to operate from? What are the positive outputs of solidifying your USC for your career?
Communicate your impact
Most women tend to naturally be humble without necessarily exposing their impact, their strengths, their successes. Caroline actually says ‘’women underestimate their contribution, they are not comfortable to talk about it, they think it is lagging. That is a mistake, they have to be proud. Women are not enough oriented showcasing their good work or successes’’. So I ask you, to whom can you ask feedback on 1 thing people really appreciate about you? Identify a project or role that interests you and on which your USC could benefit. How will you communicate to your manager your interest and the value you can bring to the table? With this information, how can you build a communication plan to depict your accomplishments? And what would be the benefit for your career?
Build you influencer network
Who are those people around you, inside and outside your organization, ready to represent you or your ideas in front of influencers? You can get the others to talk about you! What do they say about your contribution? How do you invest in building a strong genuine network? How can you gain more exposure with these influencers? Caroline adds: ‘’women work so hard, are focussed on the task and the content of what they are doing, they don’t realize the political game, to getting better known with executive management’’. I suggest you identify what are common projects with internal influencers and how you can create opportunities to gain more exposure. What is your mindset having these interactions? You can identify your influencer network and develop a « influence one-pager » noting your accomplishments, expectations and objectives. Starting to build your influence, you can contact at least 2 first persons listed in this new influence strategy.
Invest in your own development
Last but not least, it is important to build a development plan that supports your intentions, your objectives, short, mid and long terms. I have seen not only women but men too, not being clear on their development. I am curious, how much time do you invest in your development. Not only having such a plan will be motivating, developing yourself will also increase your value. How else could your career benefit from a clear development plan? I suggest you take the challenge to identify 5 ways to invest professionally in yourself within the next months.
My last tip! Take a risk! Identify an action you might have previously considered risky and do it. I can be to ask for help on a project, say no to a demand that is not part of your role, send your resume for a role you don’t have 100% of the skills, ask to be part of a project, offer recommendation on process optimization, offer to present in the next team meeting,… Any new risk is a good risk!
Being part of a leadership team and board member myself, I strongly believe that a diversity of views, ideas, experiences is key for any team. As Caroline says
‘’We are asking men and women to be able to recognize each other’s strengths and being able to work together to better resolve problems, come up with best decisions and bring innovation’’. Countries and organizations that manage with diversity are already stronger. I believe we are actually seeing a historic shift in the presence of women in leadership roles, at upper levels and boards, it is about time!
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire
President-founder of o2coaching, Author, Speaker and Coach