Women Are Rising

4th June 2024

Posted In: Be In The Frame

As a Transformational Career Coach, I support many women in leadership and demanding roles aiming to build high-flying careers. From the outside, their paths look smooth and their growth story is inspirational.

However, is it possible for women across the board to enjoy fulfilled careers and financial stability – What can we learn from successful women leaders’ experiences?

Words: Angela Cox

The Challenges

Let’s look at the challenges we often experience, the mistakes we make, and the solutions and strategies that can bring tangible results.

To enjoy fulfilled careers now, we need to take action and learn from the mistakes and wins of other outstanding women. In this piece, we take a closer look at a fast-changing landscape of employment and our inner response.

The last decade has revealed that Women Are Rising – We’re breaking agendas, biases, and old-school leadership trends by adding a wise and firm feminine touch to a ‘Man’s world’.

There are significant differences between men and women in how they structure and achieve their career growth. Explicit biases against women in elite leadership positions have decreased dramatically over the last half-decade. However, subtle biases that work to undermine the tenets of meritocracy and limit women’s access to power are still in place.

What can we do differently to break the cycle of merits and take part in key decision-making, so that our voices are heard and respected and our careers are fulfilled?

Men and women face different challenges and opportunities in growing their careers due to societal norms, cultural expectations, and organisational dynamics. While there are, certainly, individual variations, I’ve mentioned below some general patterns in how men and women might experience career growth differently:

Representation and leadership – men are historically overrepresented VS women need to actively seek out mentors and allies, navigate implicit biases, and advocate for themselves to break into leadership roles;

Work-life balance – Women often shoulder a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities, which can impact their ability to devote time and energy to their careers;

Salary and promotion – disparities persist in many industries with men more likely to negotiate higher salaries;

Communication style – Assertive behaviour from men may be seen as confident and leadership-worthy, while the same behaviour from women may be viewed as aggressive or bossy;

Networking and visibility – Men may have wider professional networks and more opportunities for visibility, while women may need to cultivate relationships and promote their achievements proactively.

In each category, women must make conscious choices and efforts to gain respect and visibility to pave their path to the top.

While some women are very successful and able to create sustainable results, many others choose to stay back or step down due to the forever-growing demands of their environments.

One of the main reasons why many women give up on their career goals is their perception of high-pressure environments.

Many of us are so used to juggling many plates at once that based on our perception, we automatically do what comes naturally to us:

• Work harder to prove our worth;

• Get complicated and challenging projects done to a deadline at the cost of our life-work balance;

• Remain polite and wait until our work is noticed to get a pay rise or promotion instead of asking for it;

• In fear of appearing bossy or judged, we delay or fail to adopt assertive communication strategies staying back unseen and unheard.

By working harder and conforming to old-style leadership rules we often lose track of our own authenticity by becoming someone we’re not in order to just ‘fit in’.

Adapting this new identity, however uncomfortable it may be, often works – however, in time, it manifests itself through being stressed, emotional or burned out, with the overwhelming feeling of not fitting in.

The Solutions

Therefore, are there alternative solutions that will allow us to create sustainable results more effectively? Yes, there are!

Being authentically you and understanding the values you bring to the table are the keys to a successful and fulfilled career and sustainable growth.

A gentle reminder – even the most influential leaders have doubts; they masterfully use it to fuel their upward actions – you can do it too.

By mastering your mind-set and getting your confidence back, you’ll navigate the most challenging curves in the landscape of employment and entrepreneurship.

What else should you consider?

• If in-house professional and leadership programs have not provided the desired results – consider 1:1 support tailored to assist you to reach your personal and professional goals.

• Network more inside and outside of your industry. Create new connections – from supporters, who share your values, and help you promote your achievements, to mentors, sponsors, and coaches to help you network strategically and advocate for yourself.

• To improve your overall well-being and bring more happiness into your career, do more of what you love every day. Finding the time to be ‘you’ is imperative in this journey. Remember:

The ceiling that limits your progress professionally, mentally and financially, filled with agendas, doubts and blocks is none other than ‘perceived’ reality. By changing your perception you change your future.

About Angela Cox – Angela is founder of YourAbility and is a transformational Life and Leadership Coach. She established YourAbility four years ago and helps women develop effective and impactful leadership styles to help build their careers and personal lives on their terms.