Women and Leadership – Get Heard!

I have worked with many groups of women over the years and none more senior than an IT female network last week. These spirited, illustrious women admitted to a crises of confidence, feelings of isolation and frustration as they are ignored in meetings with male colleagues and continually undermined.

This week- another group of senior outspoken young women admitted to feelings of inadequacy when in overwhelmingly male meetings.  With comments such as ‘I feel stranded’ ‘I’m immediately shut down when I speak out and question’ ‘I just can’t speak the language of male’

Some women of course don’t feel this way and achieve high office with apparent ease but for many it’s still a trial by fire. With increased numbers of young women coming through the ranks this problem may gradually disappear but many are definitely struggling now. So some aid is required and quickly.

Recent research reported this year reveals that, contrary to what we might think, ignoring others emerged as more damaging than direct harassment. Compared with those who had experienced harassment, those being ignored felt more inclined to quit their job, less connection to their job and had a greater number of health problems.

Now I don’t think men waken up each morning, thinking about how many women they can undermine and ignore each day but make no mistake that’s what they are doing. To counter any tendencies in this direction, Fujitsu has instituted male sponsors who are enabling women to get to the top and supporting them while they are there. Helping women develop skills of confidence, tough-mindedness, chairmanship and presentation of ideas all help to equip senior women for the sometimes lonely road ahead.

Below are some of my top tips honed over the years of helping women reach the top of the tree.

Women and Leadership – Get Heard!

  • When you question male decisions make sure you deal with the positives first and only then talk about your concerns. You may have the best idea or feel that you have right on your side but deliver it in a context of approbation and you are more likely to get buy in.
  • When your male colleagues ignore you, talk more loudly till they don’t. Good leaders of course listen but try not to remind them of that too often.
  • Become user friendly with a relaxed response to adversity: if you become adversarial, you increase your chances of losing. Men are simply better at aggression.
  • Volunteer for things no-one else wants to do and make a success of it.
  • Speak up about your ideas and find interesting ways of bringing them up repeatedly till you get heard.
  • Make it your life’s work to help other women to take positions beside you.

At Ros Taylor Company, we extol the irrefutable business case that workplaces and board rooms are greatly enhanced by the presence of motivated, focused and influential women.

Through a series of monthly sessions or a shorter programme of master classes, Our Women As Leaders ™ course empowers women within the corporate environment to build their own personal brand through increased confidence, develop their ability to identify big picture opportunities, seek advancement by taking on more responsibilities and ultimately gain earned promotion.

Case Study

AstraZeneca has worked with Ros Taylor Company for the past two years, partnering with them to deliver our Women as Leaders programme which aims to provide early to mid-career women with strategies and skills aimed at boosting & accelerating their development (and thus their potential). Click on the link to find out more about our Women as Leaders Programme with AstraZeneca