There should be more women leaders! Recently, Fortune published 50 Most Powerful Women in Business listing CEOs or senior executives of mostly Fortune 1,000 companies. Why is there only fifty (50)? In the mid 80’s roughly 45% of college graduates were women and now it is approaching 60%. More women are going to graduate and professional schools too. We have been here before!
During 1900-1930, men and women were equally represented in college! The difference was that most women were becoming teachers, nurses and other women dominated professions. Opportunities for women at the time for leadership was in these roles. Women’s roles were different! More women married earlier and stayed home with children. Economics were different or was it? Attitudes about women working were different too! Opportunities for women were very different!
Today, women marry later and thanks to a 50% divorce rate remain on their own. Women need to work and attitudes are changing. Are there more opportunities for women now? More opportunities mean more choices. More choices mean women can go up the corporate ladder, run their own business or be a stay at home mom. Women can do it all or find their own career path. Although more women are graduating college, there still only fifty (50) women in senior executive positions in the Fortune 1,000 companies. Men or women can benefit from following these steps to the executive suite.
If you are a woman who wants to go up the corporate ladder, you need to follow eight (8) steps to reach your goal:
- Plan, Plan and Plan – Plan your nest step and the one after that and the one after that. You need to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience for the next promotion, but it does not stop there. You have to constantly think about what you need to get to the final goal.
- Distinguish yourself – Look for opportunities to stand out. You can show your leadership skills and demonstrate your knowledge. My daughter early in her career was part of a weekly meeting reporting for her department to senior executives. She is now one step from being a senior executive.
- Act like the CEO – Some people refer to it as “what would Steve Jobs do?” What would the CEO do? How would they act, dress or say? Start now!
- Unique set of skills – What makes you unique? Use every opportunity to demonstrate success with your unique skills.
- Do your best – When I worked for a Fortune 100 company, I brought my A game. I had to in order to compete because everyone was as good or better than me.
- Work backwards – Think about the outcome or goal and work backwards. What skills or experience do you want to add to your resume to make you more attractive for the job you eventually want.
- Community involvement – The CEO job is not a 9-5 job! If you were a CEO, you would hang out with other CEOs. Why wait, start now by volunteering or networking in areas that interests you.
- Become famous – Not in the normal sense but as a rising star internally with your peers, bosses and externally in your industry.
- Work harder and become lucky – Develop a reputation of being a hard worker who does everything excellently.
Not everyone wants to be a CEO or a senior executive! If you are a women who wants to be in charge of a department, division or company, you have to plan to reach your goal. Talent, skills or experience is not enough. How do you stand out in a crowded field of men and women who want these management roles. It is not enough to simply work hard, you have to work harder, smarter and better than anyone else.
Women have more opportunities and choices, but fewer women are willing to sacrifice their personal goals or family responsibilities for professional aspirations. Quality of life choices sometimes trump professional choices. There should be more women leaders , but it does not have to be traditional corporate CEO . More women are running their own small business online or traditional brick and mortar businesses. Men or women would benefit from following my steps to leadership. Success traits are not gender specific! More women leaders may change future choices too!
Photo by: GDS Infographics