Getting into Leadership Roles as a Woman
Barbara Reinhold | Monster Contributing Writer
There’s a lot of talk about the pipeline — that magical conveyer belt that calls a select few up toward the top of organizations. The pipeline is critically important for women, who in most organizations are notably absent from it.
This underrepresentation of eligible females is often cited as the excuse for everything from pay inequity and the shortage of women in executive education programs to the miserable paucity of women in top decision-making roles.
And so it benefits females to understand this important concept and apply it to their own strategic career planning. One good resource is The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel, all high-powered consultants/coaches.
Charan and his colleagues describe six “leadership passages,” or increasingly complex roles that everyone — male and female — must learn to handle in order to rise to the top. Look at this hierarchy of passages to see where you are ready to perform now and where you might eventually like to be:
From Managing Self to Managing Others
Of course this is where it all begins, when you’re picked from the crowd of individual contributors as a terrific performer and offered opportunities to supervise, direct and evaluate others as a front-line manager.
Skills at this level have to do with assigning work, as well as motivating and coaching employees. The shift here is from doing work yourself to arranging to have it done effectively by others.
From Managing Others to Managing Managers
Things get more complex here, as you must decide whether to do things your way or help others work better in their own ways. When people flunk passage two, it’s usually because they can’t learn to delegate tasks and coordinate activities without devaluing the people who report to them.
Women often seem to be naturals here, because their emotional switchboard roles and parenting experiences have prepared them for chunking down complex goals into manageable tasks.