What we hear from female middle managers – and how organisations can support talented women into leadership roles
We are delighted that STRIDE, our dedicated programme for female middle managers, is entering its fourth year. With 11 cohorts to date, we feel very privileged to have shared the STRIDE journey with so many wonderful women.
STRIDE was developed with the broad aim to equip women to:
- Be the best versions of themselves
- Feel that they can be true to themselves and what they believe in, and stand for, whilst being successful too
- Stay true to their values whilst navigating the next career progression and bring others with them
- Not feel they have to emulate men but make the most of the intrinsic set of skills they bring
We wanted to create a ‘safe’ environment for women to explore key areas, challenges and learn, not only from the facilitators but also from each other.
So, after 4 years, we want to share with you some of the key themes emerging from the programme and what we hear:
- You are braver and stronger than you think you are
- Everybody else feels exactly the same as you do!
- It is good to open your mind to different ways of thinking – it can really help move some of those things that have been stopping you out of the way
- Sometimes you have blind spots…..things that were just never on your radar. However, once you recognise them it can make a huge difference to moving forward more positively and easily!
We also realise there are some key areas which can help organisations and senior people to support talented women:
- Women have a natural tendency to dampen down their achievements and talk them down. Self-advocacy is really important and you can still do it in a way that feels comfortable without having to ‘shout it from the rooftops’. Research shows that some women will look at a role and unless they ‘tick all of the boxes’ won’t apply. However, men will typically apply even if they only have 60% of the experience needed. Create the awareness around this and encourage those applications
- In some industries, particularly financial services, law and professional services, the biggest barrier for women is other women. Be the change, be the role model and don’t make others have to ‘go through what you went through’ or ‘give up what you had to give up’….pave the way.
- You can still be ‘feminine’ and be successful. Balanced boards are proven to be more successful than single sex boards. Create the environment where the differences between men and women are embraced and see the advantages of not recruiting a ‘mini-me’. Women should never feel they have to emulate men in order to be successful. Similarly, try not to have the ‘boys club’ where career discussions only take place on the golf course or at the rugby.
- The world of work is changing and moving towards a 24/7 culture. Create an environment where people can carve out a flexible approach for them, which creates a ‘win/win’ for the individual and the organisation.
- Women often feel they can’t ‘have it all’. Defining or re-framing what success looks like on an individual basis is critical. Women are often not at the top of organisations because they choose not to go there; in essence they ‘opt-out’. When they look upwards they need to see the values of the business being role-modeled. Role modelling women at the top of organisations can also have a huge impact.
- Managing failure is as important, if not more important than success. The greatest learning can come from failing so embrace the challenge and create an environment where failure is accepted, not punished.
- Remember it’s not just about having children. As the population gets older many more people have a variety of care responsibilities. Also, activities outside of work are really important to people in their effort to ‘strike a balance’ So, acknowledge that flexibility means different things to different people. It’s not just about having children but having a life outside of work too!
To find out how STRIDE can support your female middle managers or to discuss how you can understand more about STRIDE from a personal development perspective, please follow this LINK or contact:
THE NEXT STRIDE SIX-MONTH PROGRAMME DATES ARE:
21st November 2017: Managing Myself
17th January 2018: Managing Perceptions
15th March 2018: Managing Business