A recent editorial on Women’s Agenda focused on the skills and strategies it takes to move from middle management to executive management, and the hurdles that women might face in making that move. In particular, it looked at the “missing 33%” of skills needed to move ahead, that research has suggested that women lack. Jenny Morris, CEO of The Orijen Group, has responded.
Most leadership qualities are universal, and not gender specific. However, we have identified a number of “unconscious” qualities that impact the progress of women from middle management into senior executive roles – the point at which we lose up to 35% of the female workforce.
Up until middle management, women will be promoted for doing a good job, as will men. From middle management on, we suggest that the game changes from ‘doing good’ to ‘being seen to be good”.
Women continue to play the ‘good girl’ game, while their male counterparts play a ‘being seen’ game – promoting themselves, increasing their profile, lobbying, asking for what they want, playing the politics. Women find these behaviours (even referring to them as a game) inherently uncomfortable, or even grubby, and refuse either consciously or unconsciously to play this game.
Yet if women aren’t on the playing field, they will continue to see their often less capable male counterparts pass them by. Central to our belief is that unpalatable as it may be, the current reality is that women need to both understand that there is a different game being played, and to play that game.
However, they don’t have to play the same way as the men. Women need to work together to find an authentic leadership style that keeps them in the game, but doesn’t go against their personal integrity. That’s what women-to women mentoring can do and where women’s leadership development programs should focus.