As I watched Emma Watson give her emotional speech on feminism and gender equality for the HeForShe campaign, I was impressed. Who thought that Hermione Granger could deliver such a passionate plea for female rights?
Later in the week KPN announced that they would end their program to favor women for senior appointments. Jasper Rynders, one of the directors at KPN, said that he was disappointed in the women as their behavior and competencies were very similar to the men already in place, including their downsides.
Thank god there was Martine Van Den Poel, Coaching practice director at Insead! She gave an enlightening presentation on the difference between male and female leadership during a ‘Straffe madammen’-lunch (there is no English translation for this, but the definition of ‘straffe madam’ may help: female who has done extra-ordinary things – it is a network for ‘cool’ female professionals).
Although typical female attributes, such as emotional intelligence, are behaviors that become increasingly important while climbing the corporate ladder, very few women actually make to the top.
As I pro-actively search for women for one of my clients, I meet talented ladies every week. How come that some of them settle for a second in command position at a certain point in their career? Are we building our own glass ceiling?
First of all, men and women have a different motivation to lead. Whereas for men, leading holds a fun factor, women experience a conflict between their gender role and the leader role.
It seems like the desire to gain power has a negative feel to it.
Also, our search for harmonious relationships makes us feel uncomfortable when engaging into more conflictuous situations. We don’t dare to ask what we want for the fear of being called ‘a bitch’.
Secondly, women rely primarily on their competency to move up the corporate ladder. How many times do we think that our hard work will pay off in the end? Time for networking, relationship building is often lost in our quest to be perfect.
There should be ways to start using some of the more male-oriented skills to show what we can do.
But as the example at KPN has shown, it is imperative that we safeguard our female strengths and do not become a shadow of a man.
But how can we do this?
There seems to be a lack of female role models from whom we can learn.
A number of multinationals have created networks of women within the organization so they can learn from each other. At my client, male senior executives mentor talented females.
Could that be the way?
So here is my call to action! Talented women of the world, bring your confidence level to your competence level with female flair…and for the men…advocate with us as gender is a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.
Let me know any tips you may have!
I look forward to hearing from you,