Knocking Down the Roadblocks for Women in Leadership Positions
31/03/2021 |

Knocking Down the Roadblocks for Women in Leadership Positions

Women should be assessed on the basis of their competences - part-time work or children should not play a role in this.

Women should be assessed on the basis of their competences - part-time work or children should not play a role in this.

International Women’s Day, Equal Pay Day and women’s quotas ….whenever I come across these terms, I am ambivalent. On the one hand, I see them as a sign that something is moving. Yes, we are dealing intensively with the issues of women and careers: We are working hard to remedy grievances and to place equality prominently. And then again, women’s quotas in companies, for example, seem to be indications that we have by no means arrived where we want to (and can) arrive, namely at a gender-independent assessment of qualifications and equal opportunities for careers and equivalent pay.

Because we are still a long way from that.

Women should be assessed on the basis of their competences – part-time work or children should not play a role in this.

Does the fact that a woman works part-time and has children diminish her qualifications? Do men really perform better because they are more willing to take risks? Why does the fact that, according to a study by Morgan Stanley, corporate profits are 2.8% higher with a high proportion of women than in other companies? Does this not have significant effect on decisions to increase the proportion of women at C-level?

How do women manage to overcome the obstacles and hurdles that are sometimes not apparent at first glance in order to take the place in the company that they deserve on the basis of their knowledge, skills and social competences?

We are still a long way from gender-independent assessment of qualifications and equal opportunities for careers or pay.

There are certainly different strategies for this and, depending on how innovative the company is in terms of culture, diversity and gender equality, there are also corresponding chances for success.

Many women in leadership positions recommend a female mentor

Parallel to the strategic approaches to careers, the “SHEconomy” is gradually establishing itself, simply due to changing trends in lifestyle. For example, the proportion of single women in the total population is gradually increasing because women are postponing motherhood, staying single or getting divorced at an older age. As a result, more women are devoting themselves fully to their careers, which is gradually leading to a growing proportion of female managers.

Yet, this does not mean that women have an easier time gaining recognition or the right positions.

Many women who have worked their way up to leadership positions themselves recommend seeking a female mentor who can provide appropriate support. These women are already in the positions that newcomers aspire to and are in a position to support them accordingly.

When companies are willing to break down traditional ways of thinking, women are better able to advance.

When companies are willing to break down traditional ways of thinking, women are better able to advance.

The experiences we have had as women in leadership positions can help others tackle challenges more skillfully and overcome them more successfully than we may have done. We also have a different perspective on the abilities and ambitions of our own-gender colleagues. We can support them in a very different way, because we know what strategies work without losing ourselves or copying male attitudes.

Of course, this is only successful if the company is generally open to expanding the female share of managers and recognizes and values their potential. In a classically organized or male-dominated organization, women will find it all the more difficult to position themselves.

A male mentor can help overcome typical female showstoppers

Having a male mentor can also be an advantage – especially if he is recognized because of his position in the company and his recommendations are trusted. My personal experience includes the positive experience of having experienced promotion by male managers who confronted me quite bluntly with my weaknesses, thinking errors and inconsistencies without putting me at a disadvantage. In many cases they were more direct, but also more benevolent than some women who, as competitors, preferred to keep me away from projects or interesting, career-enhancing tasks.

Of course, a mentor alone does not make a leader. Rather, it is also up to the women themselves to decide which opportunities they open up for themselves and how courageous they are to pursue the paths that promise success. This also includes putting an end to typical female showstoppers, such as a lack of self-confidence, feelings of guilt or aggressiveness; instead practice sovereignty, delegation and networking. In an article recently published in “Die Zeit,” Geraldine Schroeder, managing director of a communications agency, makes the demand to women: “Finally, start making trouble.”

You have to make decisions, sometimes unpopular ones. However, this does not mean feeling guilty afterwards because not everyone likes the consequences.

In a management position, you have to make decisions, sometimes unpopular ones. However, this does not mean feeling guilty afterwards because not everyone likes the consequences. On the contrary, it is precisely then that it is important to master the situation with self-confidence, straightforwardness and a clear, forward-looking view, eliminating resistance through transparency and logic.

Women should trust in their abilities / The world of work is about to change

Very often I have also experienced a certain indecisiveness among women about how they want to live their role as leaders. Falling into male dominance or even arrogance is not appropriate. Women are not the better men. But if they remember their empathy and their ability not to lose sight of the big picture, despite their eye for detail, this makes them better managers.

Typical male rope networks are not the ones that women use and benefit from.

Women communicate differently, and it is precisely this difference that has a positive impact, because it has an integrative effect. Difficult decisions, for example, are more successful when those who are affected are involved in the decision-making process. Women interact differently, more intensively and personally with their team members, and can thus build relationships that lead to constructive cooperation.

In summary, although women still have a difficult position in a male-dominated workplace, it is changing and women are making a great contribution.

The time of excuses and apologies is long gone. Neither do women have to justify themselves for aspiring to C-level, nor is it permissible to try preventing it.

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Photos: Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels

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