Women failing to empower themselves to fulfil career ambitions

Share this story

A new study from Bizas Coaching & Consulting Ltd reveals that women can be the masters of their own destiny at work. However, the results also suggest that although women possess the essential qualities needed to lead businesses of today, they are not utilising those skills to progress to the highest levels of senior leadership.

The research of 1,030 females in conjunction with Talent Innovations and WEConnect International measured women’s perceptions of their current performance and ability to do their job. The survey found that the majority felt they ‘are known to deliver’ (98.7%), were ‘good at what they do’ (97%) and ‘got results’ (95%). More significantly, abilities associated with high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) were considered key strengths. ‘Motivating others’ was highlighted as a strength by 84 percent of respondents, ‘making a difference to their teams’ by 95 percent and ‘standing with pride’ by 79 percent.

Development areas

Conversely the research suggests that women are failing to utilise these same EQ qualities to drive their own career progression. 51.9 percent of women surveyed felt that ‘managing profile’ was a key development area and 45.6 percent said the same of ‘personal career development’. Many of the women who took part in the 1-2-1 interviews spoke of a reluctance to talk about their successes amongst their peers.

“Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is crucial in today’s business leaders because people are now working in complex and matrix structures around the world where you can no longer use command and control,” said Ishreen Bradley, Founder, Bizas Coaching & Consulting. “You have got to win hearts and minds and gain alignment. You’ve got to communicate the benefits and make sure that everyone is taken care of. People with high EQ have the qualities to create the environment needed to deliver successful work and results that impact their employer’s performance.”

“A lot of investment is being made by the Government and Industry to promote the success of women at work. However, women are still very much in the minority – and more so with increasing levels of seniority. When you consider the type of politicking and networking needed to progress up the ranks of a company, it becomes clear that a natural modesty is a major contributor to what’s holding women back from progressing in their jobs. This is good news. Dealing with these issues is far easier than the cultural change that is being spearheaded by the government and organisations themselves,” continued Ishreen.

A tailored and personal approach

Many of the programmes being instigated by organisations focus on work and treat women as a distinct group. However, the interviews demonstrated that rather than a general one-size fits all programme, a more tailored and personal approach to individual needs would be more beneficial.

“For example, in most global organisations nowadays employees need to be available outside core working hours however, development programmes do not generally support with this aspect.  If you want to create an environment in which employees thrive, you have to take a more holistic approach – one in which work and home can flow into each other in a way that works for employers and women.”

A common vision

Julia Litchfield, Talent Leader ARS EMEA at Aon commented: “As my career has progressed, I have found that success is much less about what I “produce” and much more about: working with others to create a common vision; aligning people to the vision; gaining buy in and commitment; mobilising the organisation around the vision; building teams who are high performing and passionate about what they do; building trust and belief in what you are doing. All these things are about people and relationships with people, and so strong Emotional Intelligence is a highly important aspect of success. The more you connect with people the more you can achieve – I believe this is such a complex area and no-one has perfect EQ. We can all benefit from developing our EQ further.”

Nearly everyone surveyed agreed that their ability to get results was a key strength. Their capability to do their jobs is not the issue. Enabling them to understand that this is not enough – that they have to take a long view of their careers – then plan and deliver on those aspirations in the same way as they do in delivering great work and looking after their teams is critical if organisations want to realise the ROI from their female workforce.  Giving them the confidence to communicate their success and build profile in a way that feels natural is essential. In my experience, this can best be done on a 1-2-1 basis,” said Ishreen.

Having worked to the highest levels of corporate culture as well as coached women to do the same, Ishreen can see the challenge from both sides. She has produced a whitepaper that will help both organisations who understand the important role women can play in leadership as well as for women keen to make it to the top to achieve their goals and develop to their full potential.

Help Keep HRreview Free with a Small Donation





4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. We are continuing to research and so solve the wrong problem. Every critical attribute that women possess to greater or lesser extent, in many instances, than men (Zenger & Folkman), are attributes that are to do with collaboration. Women by nature are collective more than individualistic. We continue to research and develop methods for promoting individual women and repetitiously ignoring the fact that by doing this we are putting women into leadership contexts where they feel unsafe (think consistently in the minority at the executive table). Women do most of their life with others not over them. That’s why in this lateral world their approach us crucial. The only answer I can see is promoting several women concurrently and always ensuring they gave other women as mentors and mist importantly cheer squads.

  2. That’s a bold statement Fabian. Do the studies you mention attribute this collectiveness to nurture or nature? Considering the environment that these women have been brought up in, where a large majority of leadership positions are held by men, could it be that the limited amount of female role models in leadership positions alter their own individual ambitions to lead?

  3. Another suggestion that the problem lies with women… Try this http://www.mckinsey.com/features/women_matter

  4. I suppose that was pointing the finger in the wrong direction really. We shouldn’t say, “Oh the traditionally male-dominated boardroom is a psychic barrier to the career progression of women.” That history is always going to be there, better to look forward.

Post Comment