Inspiring Women's Leadership

Putting My Time and Energy Where My Intention Is

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happy_teamA few years ago, in 2009, I wrote the post below. This was before Lean In, before Anne Marie Slaughter.

Everything in it is still true, and it’s worth reading. But I don’t want you to focus on what is not changing or is changing so slowly that we barely perceive it, I want to you focus on making a difference; I am focusing on making a difference.

As part of my work to make a difference, I have created first the Disruptive Leadership Program, and now the Disruptive Leadership Coaching Club.

It continues to be my passion and my intention to see more women at the corporate leadership tables both locally and globally. The Disruptive Leadership Coaching Club (DLCC) is an outgrowth of that passion and intention – so that young women get the coaching and mentoring that they need to be confident, poised and brilliantly successful in their careers.

A group of dynamic and dedicated coaches have joined me in the DLCC program and we all plan to see these young women be able to make the choices that that want to make in their careers so that they become the leaders that they want to be.

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!

With only 6 CEOs in the Fortune 100 and a paltry 15 in the Fortune 500, we might be inclined to believe that getting past the glass ceiling is a task beyond most women. However, like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, we may find that it is our own limited thinking that contributes to keeping us from the top positions.

We are able to define in great detail what keeps us as women from ascending to the highest leadership positions in Corporate America or in political leadership. We are able to identify the glass ceiling, the marble ceiling, the concrete ceiling, the glass cliff, the shattered cliff, the sticky floor, the lattice and the labyrinth to name the most commonly perceived trips and traps.

Let’s start having a very different conversation about women in leadership and let’s have that conversation everywhere. It must be had within our own hearts and minds as well as with women colleagues, with men, in businesses, in business schools, in any training programs, and in leadership programs.
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As women, we come to leadership with skills that are different than those that men bring. Women are natural relationship-builders. Women are focused and yet can multi-task. Women are more collaborative; we want to win and have it be for the good of all. Women assess risk differently. There’s a lot for women to hang their hats on and build confidence around.

On July 1, 2009, Ursula Burns became the first African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It was also the first woman-to-woman handover as Burns stepped in after Anne Mulcahy stepped down at Xerox. Mulcahy has been celebrated as the most successful female CEO to date, for her phenomenal turnaround of an ailing Xerox. This is a stellar example of how the tide is turning in the business world’s assessment of and response to female CEOs as well as the beginning of what needs to become a broad trend: women supporting and hiring other women in business.

That women have not populated the highest positions in the landscape of business and political leadership is simply an historical fact.

It is not a template for the future.

As more women graduate in historically male dominated fields, more women will step into the leadership pipeline. With more female role-models to choose from, we no longer have to learn to lead from men and adopt the masculine style of leadership. We can be women and bring all of our natural and authentic skills to the job.

As Baby Boomers retire, the way business is being done is going through significant transformations and one of those will be the flood of gender-blind, color-blind, work/life-integration-embracing Millennial workers. Half of those workers will be women.

Now is the time for women to step up to the challenge and be ready to be the leaders of today and tomorrow. As women, let’s bring our skills to the leadership table and co-create with our male colleagues a successful future for all of us.

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