Changing the world doesn’t require women to mirror men. It demands that women exercise what has long been regarded as their leadership abilities – sensitivity, perceptiveness, connectedness and compassion – which measurably impact outcomes.

2019 sees the highest percentage of women in senior management on record, at 29%. This year also marks the biggest increase in the proportion of women in executive roles around the world, rising five percentage points from 24% in 2018, and making it the first time the proportion of women in senior leadership has exceeded one in four. However, globally the proportion of women in senior roles is still lying short of the 30% tipping point that is expected to open the gates to gender parity. A study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) (https://bit.ly/2TQF0j2) of 171 German, Swiss and Austrian businesses showed a clear relationship between diverse management teams and revenues from innovative products and services. It also showed that innovation performance only increased significantly when more than 20% of management positions were held by women.

For women, who are at the cusp of defining leadership for themselves, here’s what you can do:

Be the leader you deserve 

Rachel was a tough as nails manager. Only meant business, no small talk but efficient and productive. She got things done. So imagine, when one day she offloaded to her friend that her boss doesn’t have talk time for her. She wants to be able to connect to her boss and speak on matters beyond the day to day business. There is no connection there and she feels unanchored at work. Curiously enough, Rachel was just like her manager for her employees.

Put yourself out there and find the courage to be the leader that you deserve and that you want.

Did you know that when women see other women in top roles, they are more likely to aspire to them: a recent study by American Express found that although only 32% of female respondents believed that reaching the C-suite was an achievable goal, this increased to 49% if they had a mentor, and 61% with a sponsor. ( https://bit.ly/2TQF0j2)

Be that mentor and that sponsor.

Get as many hands, as you can

Lean in is great. You bring to the table and you take from the table. But “lean on each other” gets you further. Collaborate at work, invest time in building relationships and in turn create a support network for all.

Differing definitions of ‘ what good looks like’ are rampant. Women think that being a good team player means helping all of my colleagues with what they need to get done. Men think that being a good team player is knowing your position and playing it well. Pick the definition that works for you and the team in the context of your business.

“If you are going to fail, fail gloriously.” – Cate Blanchett

Research says that when women doubt themselves while applying for a job even when they fit about 80% of the required skills for the job. Men apply for the job at a profile fit of 30%. Woah! I can be philosophical and say that the best opportunities arise out of failure and that wouldn’t be true, but I choose to ask: how many times have you held yourself back due to fear of failure? When did you stop trying to try?

In the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, Lorna Jane Clarkson, one of Australia’s most successful businesswomen and founder of Lorna Jane active wear, made the bold decision to expand when others around her were cutting costs and downsizing. While some thought Lorna was being reckless, her boldness led to the biggest growth period her business had ever had.

The challenge is compelling. Choosing to lead with courage will make all the difference.

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