Outright my advice today is meant for a narrow slice of the women population, specifically those determined to be potential future CEO and presidents.
I was recently invited to attend an executive club meeting in Baltimore. While there, what surprised (and shocked) me in today’s so-called “gender equality” world, is the fact that I was one among the three women CEOs in a room of eighty CEOs.
No doubt progress has undoubtedly been made to know when women get into the leadership role. But I must say that getting an equal representation of women at the board level is still a global issue.
Getting that first corporate executive seat is a challenge regardless of gender, but it definitely can be challenging for women.
While serving on the boards of a few organizations helping them develop their executive pipeline and coaching both men and women leaders, I’ve noticed something interesting. I’ve seen that opportunities are everywhere for each of us in the corporate world- be it a man or a woman. However, women don’t do enough to get there and grab these opportunities.
I am stunned to see how many women leave the opportunity for growth at the table. If someone tells you that there is a lack of qualified women in the c-suite position, well, it’s just an excuse that I would never want to hear.
I know, and I believe that every woman can prepare her path towards success with my heart and soul. You just need to know how to get there.
Here are five practices that can help you begin your journey to the C-Suite level :
# 1 Build Connections:
I cannot stress this enough — network inside and outside your office. I have come to understand that the key to getting that hot seat is going beyond the 9 am-5 pm time, along with hard work. All great connections are built either before 9 am or after 5 pm. So don’t be in a rush to pack up and drive home.
# 2 Talk in the language of value:
You need to be clear about your value to the role. Match your skill set to the company’s needs identified (or not). Offer substance, not speculation: While I firmly believe that you should make sure your voice is heard, make sure the input you offer is valuable and moves the conversation forward. If you don’t make the business case, you won’t make it to the seat either. You can do everything else right, but if the organization/client doesn’t see the value of your solution (and you’ve not clearly articulated what that value is), they will not buy into anything.
#3 Lift the Lid:
How many of you see yourself as a top leading and succeeding woman every time. You are worth as much as you think you are, and you will get in your career life as much as you feel you deserve.
To double your net-worth, triple your self-worth. It would help if you had the courage- not to do something significant but first to think something big. How can you become the CEO of a company if you are only thinking about a 9 am-5 pm job?
# 4 Master the “pre-meeting.”
Most women I’ve coached are at a very senior level in the organization. Yet they face a common problem of not speaking up and articulating their message in a room full of men. To effectively speak up at meetings, ask questions, and offer suggestions, you must master the ‘pre-meeting’ stage.
Research the agenda, know what could help move the needle for the organization, take an interest in enhancing your business and economic knowledge, and know the numbers very well. This will help you make your point confidently.
# 5 Do a positioning exercise on yourself.
Do a positioning exercise on your brand at the company. Assess whether the qualities you’re known for are your strengths, or rather, what is valued at a senior level.
I feel that the size of your dream must always exceed your current ability to achieve them.
When like me, you too begin to believe that at the end of the day we are all born to be successful, whether a man or woman, you will understand that the c-suite positions are open for both.
I hope you will give yourself that opportunity to move ahead and leave your comfort zone, and while you do this, I wish you loads of success.
I hope this helps in your journey. Share + practice + debate this with your teams and tell me your learnings.
Your Friend + Mentor
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