Why leadership training is essential in helping women reach their potential

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By: Hira Ali

It is commonly accepted that training for women only and focusing on gender specific challenges undermines equality because it divides issues by gender. But it’s important to recognize that there are distinct specific traits for men and women. Women’s lack of self-confidence is not a myth – it’s quantified, researched and documented.

1) Proven differences between female and male brain.

Gender neutral leadership training often overlooks the fact that men and women have different leadership styles because they are based on different thought processes. It is time for us to recognize these differences.

For example, men are more self-oriented, while women are more community-oriented. A woman’s decision-making process is unique and even more distinctive when combined with the dynamics and intricacies of her personality and style.

Dr Daniel Amen, author of Unleash the power of the female brain, discovered differences in female and male brains. Her research reveals that female brains are more active in almost all areas, especially in the prefrontal and limbic cortex.

One study suggests that women have 30% more neurons activated at any given time than men. This builds strengths like empathy, intuition, collaboration, and self-control, but it also makes women more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, pain, and insomnia.

For too long, women at the peak of their careers have increasingly embraced masculine qualities to reach the C-level, but this is at the expense of their own well-being. A recent study from Stanford Business School shows that women who can combine masculine and feminine qualities accomplish more than anyone else. Recognizing these gender-specific traits and harnessing them for success requires self-awareness – a quality that most accomplished leaders embody.

Jennifer Willey, my co-founder and development partner of Career Excel, an online female leadership program specifically designed to help women realize their potential, believes that “it is important to address the underlying challenges and obstacles. personnel which generally prevent women from working more. only men.

[Related: Women Can Use Our Unique Advantages to Advance Our Careers and Shine As Leaders]

2) Social and cultural conditioning has led to gender stereotypes.

In my book, I explore the impact of social and cultural conditioning on stereotypes. Many of the women I interviewed for the book recognized a problem commonly referred to as “gender reconciliation”.

In The trust code, Lindsay Hudson, CEO of BAE Systems, notes:

When a man enters the room, he is assumed to be competent until he proves otherwise. For women, it’s the other way around.

Success and liking are positively correlated for men, but successful women are seen as overly ambitious and / or assertive. To compound the problem, the occupational sanctions for men and women are also very different.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that there are social realities that increase women’s self-doubt. Given these socialized gender differences, women have developed internal challenges that carry a deeper social context and are intertwined, as my global survey of 300 women reveals.

Women need targeted programs to educate them about their innate biases and help them discover a supportive community of other women who share the same challenges. It is important that women are not expected to lead by adopting a male leadership model. On the contrary, it is more useful to see women as “equal but different”.

[Related: Lessons Learned From Leading a Women’s Group for Ten Years]

3) Women enter the workforce much less confident than their male counterparts.

A Guiding study recently found that while 63% of 7-10 year old girls are confident, only 31% of 17-21 year olds feel this way, with only a small percentage believing they have an equal chance of being successful by compared to their male colleagues.

Another survey by the American Association of University Women found that girls come out of their teens with low self-esteem, relatively low life expectations, and far less self-confidence and self-confidence. their abilities than boys.

In 2011, the UK Institute of Leadership and Management found that half of women surveyed had doubts about their professional performance and career, compared to less than a third of men surveyed. Author of Women don’t ask, Linda Babcock found in studies of business school students that women engage in wage negotiations four times less than men.

Confidence in boys remains largely unfazed as they progress into adulthood. However, as girls get older their need to belong increases, and they often adjust their ambitions and even try to gain control of their self-confidence so that others do not form negative opinions about them. As a result, their self-confidence takes a hit and the otherwise self-confident 13-year-old finally gives way to a hesitant and uncertain 20-30 year-old who thinks twice before she goes. take ownership of their success.

Research indicates that the earlier this training is provided, the easier it will be for women to reach the top. According to UN Women, young women face discrimination based on both gender and age. In particular, critical gaps in skills development and mentoring impact the ability of young women to realize their full potential as leaders.

In the KPMG Women’s Leadership Study, working women professionals believe it is essential for companies to support the development of a woman in her twenties (80%) and career advancement in her thirties (61%) . Women who work at the entry level report the lowest levels of confidence, illustrating a strong need for confidence building early in a woman’s career.

This research highlights how essential it is to empower women to reach the highest ranks by socializing leadership early in life and providing business development programs that enable them to do so.

“Investing in the development of leadership skills of young women will not only change the course of their future, but also that of their communities,” said Aaida Abu-Jaber, Head of Marketing and Public Relations at IGI and D&I Champion of the company that recently invested in a female leadership program to train female junior and middle managers in five countries.

Companies should offer this training not only because it helps advance women in their organization, but also because it helps promote inclusive and collaborative cultures that fuel innovation. Men, too, should undergo training that will teach them how to become better male allies. After all, inclusive cultures consistently outperform homogeneous cultures in terms of income, profitability, and decision-making.

[Related: To Shatter Glass Ceilings, Spread These Four Messages to Young Women]

Hira ali is an author, writer, speaker and executive coach focused on developing female and ethnic leadership, bridging the gender gap and breaking the glass ceiling. She is the founder of Advancing your potential and International women’s empowerment events and co-founder of Career Excel and The gray area. Contact her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Where Facebook. You can buy his book here.


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