Women in Management

by Rita Bailey

Key actions for advancement

Forward-thinking employers have perceived that women offer an under-used source of talent. They have endeavoured to make the workplace more attractive to them and to recruit, retain and develop women managers. Employers of this type offer leadership development, flexible working, home working and other measures to suit women with care responsibilities.

But you can’t and should not rely solely on an enlightened environment. Talk to a number of different women in any sector and you’ll notice that there are some key actions that savvy women managers, those who want to progress their careers, take in order to make that step up to the next level.

Here are some of the actions they take:

  • They have a robust and dynamic plan for where they want to go, as they realise that no one else will do their career planning for them
  • They understand their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to the next role they want and take action to increase their confidence in areas in which they are not strong
  • They seek to do their own public relations for their achievements, raising the profile for themselves and their team at the same time
  • They network inside their organisation and externally in their industry and are willing to extend into other networks to achieve what they want
  • They don’t rely on their boss noticing if they are ready for promotion
  • They value objective feedback on their thinking, behaviour and development
  • They refuse to re-invent the wheel; instead they seek out mentors and coaches to help them secure future opportunities
  • They’re willing to do the research and the work required to set the best route to the next level
  • They keep themselves well informed and up to date on what is required
  • Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.

    Janis Joplin
    If they are planning on having it all – the top job and their family – they know it needs some planning and prioritising
  • Any setback to their plans is a chance to do something different, so they learn and re-adjust that plan
  • They know that if they are to progress they need to understand the dynamics of the organisation
  • They ensure they have a positive support network of friends and family, to help keep their self-confidence intact.

So can I break through the glass ceiling?

Understanding the barriers that make up the glass ceiling can motivate you to work out a powerful approach to secure your advancement, despite what that ceiling represents.

To break through means you will have to

  • Take strategic risks
  • Work in more creative, innovative ways to achieve what you want
  • Do what you have not done before, break habits, change patterns and be ready to raise your game
  • Stay tenacious and be ready to bounce back
  • Be confident in your abilities, experience and knowledge
  • Learn not take things personally when things don’t happen when you want them to or people are not as helpful as you would like them to be
  • Be ready to bounce back after setbacks
  • Get comfortable with being visible and having attention focused on you
  • Be proactive and constantly stretched to reach the new heights you seek
  • Understand your own style and its impact on others.

Whether you believe the glass ceiling exists or not, women like you are talented and creative, and you are needed at top levels of management.

The encouraging thing is that there are already women in some of these top roles, but clearly not enough to dismiss the debate about the ceiling. If you’re a woman who refuses to stay stuck, but are frustrated at a level which you have outgrown, then breaking through means being willing to break through to the rewards you deserve, the rewards of promotion, profile, recognition, pay, positions and the choices you deserve.

People think that at the top there isn’t much room. They tend to think of it as an Everest. My message is that there is tons of room at the top.

Margaret Thatcher

Breaking through also means juggling the personal choices that women in management face every day if they intend to take up future advancement.