Leadership Training for Women
Women’s leadership programs have been a crucial topic in recent years, with much discourse over their effectiveness in the workplace. On one hand, women-focused programs provide the leadership skills, community support and resources women need to succeed in leadership roles. On the other hand, many argue that women’s leadership programs are patronizing and do little to address the organizational barriers that keep women from entering leadership positions. In this article, we will explore why getting more women in leadership positions is a must, the pros and cons of leadership training and executive education for women and how businesses can strike a better balance for women’s leadership training in the long-term.
Why Getting More Women in Leadership Positions is a Must
Across all industries, women are often underrepresented in leadership roles due to systemic biases and barriers that limit their career advancement opportunities. The issue is particularly pronounced in male-dominated fields such as finance, technology and engineering. While progress has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in achieving gender equality in leadership positions.
The benefits of having more women in leadership positions are numerous. Studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams perform better financially, are more innovative and have higher employee engagement and retention rates. Gender diversity also leads to a broader range of perspectives and ideas, which can enhance decision-making and problem-solving abilities. Studies also suggest that women have 30 percent more neurons firing than men on average, with high aptitudes in inclusive and empathetic leadership styles. Women in leadership can help make your entire organization better while also creating a more equitable workplace culture.
The Controversy of Leadership Training for Women
While it’s important for managers to constantly improve their skills, sending only the women in an organization on leadership training programs can subtly imply that they are innately worse leaders than their male peers. Knowing the great potential women have, it’s important to question where the organization has failed to address underlying problems that hold women back. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, high-potential leaders (women score higher than men on three out of four “potential” traits) are typically overlooked due to a bias towards skills and experience. While experience can be useful, those with the “right skills” have less room to improve than the high-potential candidates, wasting an organization’s time and effort. It’s also common for companies to promote those who are physically seen more often, which means sending women away for training can hurt their chances of being seen and thought of for new leadership opportunities.
Despite these drawbacks, leadership training is critical to helping women achieve their fullest potential. Many women have seen tremendous personal growth with the support of leadership development programs. They can provide women with a safe space to discuss the stories and frustrations of working in male dominated industries while providing solutions for change. Because women also face many of the same struggles (ex: lower confidence levels, unfair social norms and familial expectations), they sometimes need specific tools, knowledge and interventions to succeed in leadership roles. After participating in women’s leadership training programs, attendees report increased confidence, a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and a greater sense of belonging in the workplace.
Overall, gender biases can limit a woman’s career advancement opportunities and negatively impact her confidence. With the right combination of women’s leadership training programs and company-wide interventions, women will be equipped with the strategies and support they need to become effective leaders in the future.
Our Leadership Programs Suited to Women
Each of our Leadership Experiences provides different opportunities for skill-building, networking, and career advancement, which are helpful to leaders of all genders. It is therefore up to your team to determine which solutions best align with your leadership development goals. As a starting point, here are a few offerings we might suggest to a cohort of women leaders.
The Encore Leadership Experience
Because many women tend to excel in inclusive leadership, the Encore Leadership Experience can take those skills to the next level. Learning from songwriters and leaders in the music industry, participants learn how to take personal risks, give others a voice and become strong collaborators. The vulnerability required by musicians could also inspire open dialogue around the unique challenges women experience in and out of the workplace.
The Gold Medal Leadership Experience
The Gold Medal Leadership Experience shows participants how to meet challenges head-on with agility and resilience. Through the analogy of high-performance athletics, this cohort might find interesting parallels between the stories of the elite athletes and their own struggles with overcoming gender bias in their organization.
Virtual Learning Expedition
For teams across varying time zones, an interactive Virtual Learning Expedition could be a great way to build community with other members of an organization that might not be seen everywhere and are unable to connect in-person. Connection to a wider network of women helps to build psychological safety when challenging the status quo in your organization.
How Businesses Can Invest in Leadership Training for Women in the Long-Term
Women should never be solely responsible for shifting organizational mindsets. Here are some ways that your team can work together to fight workplace discrimination and invest in female leaders for the long-term:
1. Mentoring Women
Mentorship is a great way to support the development of future leaders. For women especially, having a high-powered sponsor who can advocate for them is essential to career advancement and addressing pay equity. Mentoring can happen in small groups, one-on-one, across departments or over long or short periods of time. Find what works best for both mentors and mentees.
2. Provide Flexible Work Arrangements
Many women face barriers to career advancement due to family responsibilities. By providing flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, job-sharing or flexible hours, companies can support women in balancing their work and family responsibilities, leading to increased retention rates and a positive impact on career advancement opportunities.
3. Tackle Company-Wide Bias and Discrimination Training
Companies can take proactive measures to address bias and discrimination in the workplace. This can include unconscious bias training for all employees, creating a culture of inclusivity and implementing policies that promote gender equity.
4. Foster a Culture of Learning and Development
Companies that foster a culture of learning and development are more likely to retain their employees and promote from within. By providing opportunities for professional development and executive leadership training, companies can demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ growth and career development.
Women’s leadership programs are a necessary tool in promoting gender diversity and equity in the workplace. However, there are also challenges that must be addressed, including biases and discrimination. By investing in leadership training programs for women in the long-term and creating a culture of inclusivity and learning, companies can promote gender diversity and equity while reaping the benefits of a more diverse and highly effective workforce. By providing women with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to succeed in leadership roles, companies can create a more inclusive and innovative workplace culture for generations to come.