Six Ways Female Leaders Can Help Their Sisters To Succeed – Forbes

Six Ways Female Leaders Can Help Their Sisters To Succeed – Forbes

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Female leaders can set their peers up for success.getty

Female leaders are vital to helping other female leaders flourish at work. Arguably the most important way in which they do this is by acting as role models.

Women can also support other women in the workplace by acting as sponsors, mentors and sounding boards. They can ensure that talented women in their team have access to development and progression opportunities and they can introduce them to useful contacts in their network.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022, six female leaders share their suggestions for setting their sisters on the path to success.

1. Keep the drawbridge down

“The single most important thing female leaders can do is to be a connector,” says Yetunde Hofmann, author of Beyond Engagement and founder of SOLARIS, a pioneering leadership development programme for Black women.

Hofmann advises successful women to use their personal and professional network to benefit other women. “When you reach the most senior of positions – the C-suite or board level – keep the drawbridge down,” she advises. “Walk down it, stand beside the woman at its base and walk back up with her to where you are, and cheer her on as she advances beyond you. Open doors for her, whether she’s aware of it or not, and without condition – knowing in your own heart that her success is a product of yours. Then sit back and enjoy the multiplier effect.”

2. Demonstrate compassion, courage and wisdom

“Young female leaders often lack confidence and do not know how good they are,” says Dr Joan van den Brink, an executive coach, management consultant, founder of Araba Consulting and author of The Three Companions.

“The single most impactful thing senior women leaders can do is help young female leaders recognize that they have the answers within themselves to solve an array of complex leadership problems,” she explains. “From influencing senior executives and handling complexity and ambiguity to taking their rightful space and place in typically male-dominated environments.”

Van den Brink believes that senior female leaders need “the courage not to step in to rescue these young leaders when they seem to be floundering”, “the compassion to be there alongside them during difficult times” and “the wisdom to know that these women will grow most if they can see that they do have the answers and can hold their own”.

3. Show that it’s ok to say no

Jessica Robinson, author of Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future, believes that female leaders must accept their own limits and be clear about them to others. “We need to support one another in making it acceptable for us to say no – whether that be to a new project, a new client or a new role,” she says.

Robinson continues: “I know so many phenomenal women who struggle daily with this inability to say no – taking on too much and neglecting themselves. So from one female leader to another, we need to tell each other in no uncertain terms that it is ok to put the brakes on and just say no.”

4. Organize ‘brown bag’ sessions

Frederique Murphy, a leadership mindset strategist, keynote speaker and author of Lead Beyond The Edge: The Bold Path to Extraordinary Results, makes the case for female leaders getting together at brown bag sessions where they can “gain the most impact from all brains in the group”. She suggests that the sessions follow this structure:

Connect: start by introducing yourself, one by one.

Captivate: share one thing the group might be surprised to hear about you.

Celebrate: share three wins you’ve experienced since your last session, receive your fellow women leaders’ cheers and give cheers to them, too.

Challenge: once you’ve heard from all, share one challenge you are facing right now with the group.

Coach: having heard all challenges, help each other through them. Encourage, take stock, capture the lessons to figure out the takeaways and actions to carry forward.

5. Embrace empathy

Research by Harvard Business Review in 2019 showed that women who have a strong network of female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay. Interestingly there was no link found for the success of men in terms of the gender composition of their inner circles.

“It is in our empathy for each other, as women, as working mothers, as leaders and familial caregivers, where we can truly find the space to grow together,” says Mimi Nicklin, creative CEO at agency Freedm, an empathy advocate and author of Softening the Edge.

She explains: “Our mutual understanding is our super power and if we can leverage this ability and encourage each other to take the promotion, step into the room and speak up more often, well, we have the power to change the world.”

6. Know that you don’t need to be “one of the boys”

“Many of us have learned that the only way to succeed is to play according to rules made for men, by men,” says Marianna Zangrillo, an authority on leadership and strategy, who is co-author of The Next CEO: Board and CEO Perspectives for Successful CEO Succession.

But she points out that today’s world is increasingly aware that women “have a lot to contribute to the top management agenda”, and with it “the opportunity to forget the idea that we should change ourselves”.

“To achieve that change, we need to speak up, sit in the first row at important meetings, mutually support each other and emphasize the importance of collaborating rather than competing against each other,” advices Zangrillo. “We may not be liked for doing so, but we will slowly gain the respect and attention we deserve.”

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March 7, 2022 at 02:25AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman