By Ajeeta Dash, Guest Blogger for Benatti Training & Development
A special thank you to my Leadership Coaching Client and Guest Blogger, Ajeeta Dash. Ajeeta recently was promoted to Director Translational Medicine at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and is part of the Translational & Biomarker Research Department.
I attended a day-long workshop on “Critical Success Factors for Women Leaders” at The Institute for Management Studies in Boston, taught by Sara King of Optimum Insights. I had several great takeaways from this class.
Factors that are thought to derail women, compared to men, are most often said to be due to 1) a poor image and not projecting confidence, 2) having too narrow of an experience base, and 3) being too ambitious or wanting too much.
Most women are not comfortable speaking about their accomplishments and strengths which decreases their visibility and can sometimes be thought of as lack of self confidence. Marie C. Wilson of The White House Project has said, ”If you are not visible, you cannot lead.” To be successful, a woman leader has to make a conscious decision to be a leader, own and capitalize on her strengths, and be willing to promote them. She has to be okay with not being good at everything and be willing to fail. In addition, she should always be looking for opportunities to develop new skills. A successful woman leader has to learn to stretch beyond ‘do-er’ and ‘super do-er’ roles such that she is not solely focused on executing tasks, but is willing to contribute through others and in a more strategic manner. It is unfortunate that successful women have to tread a narrow path between appearing too ambitious and having to demonstrate the drive and desire to succeed. Being able to manage these two opposites is a great skill to have.
From the analysis of 360° reviews, researchers have found that women outshine men in the majority of leadership dimensions but are often found to lack a well-articulated leadership vision. A leadership vision is an expression of what you want to get done, regardless of what your position is. Having a well-thought-out vision will provide a focus for your goals and help prioritize them. A vision allows you to move from being task focused (a do-er or a super do-er) to being more strategic in your thinking and you can use your vision to engage and excite others. Your leadership vision can evolve as you yourself grow in your leadership role.
Political savvy is essential in a successful leader. Politically-savvy leaders are more successful in their organizations and are considered more promotable. Being politically savvy allows you to influence others as well as have a finger on the organization’s pulse, such that you better understand the dos and don’ts of the organization, as well as organizational priorities. Leaders who are politically skilled have strong interpersonal relationships, are sincere and authentic, and are good at networking. Such leaders know the importance of managing up, are socially astute, and can read a situation well and are not impulsive in their speech.
Lastly, a diverse and deep network is essential for success as a leader. The quality of the people in your network is important and should include diversity of perspectives and experience. A diverse network allows you keep up with best practices and innovations as well as new career opportunities. A trusted network also allows you to get honest feedback on your performance and abilities. In addition, it is good practice to identify sponsors, mentors, and peer-coaches within your network to allow you to develop strategies to navigate the politics within your organization.
What are your key ingredients for leadership success?
Be sociable and share!