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June 2012
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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Celebrating Female Leaders Month

Posted by: Nicky Garcea and Alex Linley (as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month, June 2012)

 

As we come to end of Female Leaders Month we hope you have enjoyed our blogs. We know from your feedback that the role of harnessing your power bases, realising your strengths and overcoming subliminal sexism has struck chords with many of you.

 

Our commitment to developing the Generation F of future female talent does not end here.

 

We are delighted as this month draws to a close to be able to share with you the launch of our Female Leaders Programme. This programme has been designed to harness the unique and impactful combination of strengths and power base development, helping female leaders to maximise the opportunities that are open to them by building on the capabilities they have.

 

In July, we will also be launching our Women in Leadership survey, designed to explore more about many of the issues that have been raised by our blogs and your comments throughout Female Leaders Month. We hope you will join us in completing this survey and help us further shape the women in leadership debate.

 

To receive regular female leadership updates, you are also invited to  follow Nicky on Twitter, @NickyGarcea

 

As we sign off for the month, we have 7 Top Tips for Female Leaders, that summarise the advice we have shared across Female Leaders Month:

 

1. Take confidence from your strengths: know what you’re good at and what energises you – and use it!

 

2. Maximise your unrealised strengths: align them to your future career goals and aspirations

 

3. Harness your power: influence decisions and outcomes to help you get what you want

 

4. Be courageous: with your choice of mentor and sponsor, don’t shy away from seeking someone with status

 

5. Think before you speak: eradicate unnecessary apologetic language from your daily interactions and particularly in meetings

 

6.  Tilt more than balance: say yes to the things that draw on your strengths and reduce the time  you spend on non-critical weaknesses

 

7. Hold out your hand: through your behaviours and actions, you can play your part to open the door for the female talent of tomorrow.

 

We hope that the themed blogs of Female Leaders Month have inspired you to do more to celebrate and develop female talent. Watch out for future blogs on these issues on The Capp Blog, and please share your comments and experiences by using the Comment function below.

 

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It’s Time to Stand Up for the ‘F’ Word

Posted by: Nicky Garcea, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

My grandmother, Joy, is 89. She is a fierce advocate of women voting; she also believes you should never tell your husband who you voted for. She remembers the suffragettes, she remembers women starving and dying for the vote, she is not afraid to call herself a feminist.

 

Today, things have come a long way from the early years of what my grandmother remembers. Personally, it wasn’t until I took my first consulting role that I started to notice that there were fewer women in the organisations I visited. One Sunday evening in the business class lounge at Charles de Gaulle it dawned on me, ‘I am the only woman, other than air stewardess, boarding this flight’.

 

I can’t accept any more that things are the same for women in business as they are for men. I am committed to shamelessly supporting and nurturing female talent. The following blog, published in Training Journal, asks whether it is time for more of us to stand up for the ‘F’ word.

 

When Annie Lennox addressed business leaders on the centenary of international women day on 8 March 2011, she asked all the feminists to stand. The room’s response was stillness, few women stood and supported ‘feminism’. Despite the support for feminism growing internationally at a political level, it is something which UK female business leaders seek to disassociate themselves from.

 

Frequently, women are apprehensive when offered female specific development, reluctant at the thought of attending a programme that might label them as ‘different’ or that would single them out. So there is a growing tension in organisations between wanting to develop women and support their progression, while at the same time not doing it in a way that is overtly ‘feminine’ or ‘feminist’.

 

The danger of not developing emerging female talent is that nothing will change and the workforce will not evolve. In Karren Brady’s autobiography Strong Woman, Brady references how on International Women’s Day each year, she attends an event hosted at Downing Street and typically she sees the same faces year on year.

 

This happens in business, and is something we see time and time again. In Capp’s Female Leaders Programme, we have a ‘Learn from the Leader’ speaker slot, and in most organisations where this is run, there are only one or two senior females who can fill this slot!

 

So what can we do? How can we change this?

 

Firstly, I think we have to know the facts. Male employees are still leading the way in personal development and career progression, while little support is given to younger women to advance the career ladder. Despite more women graduating with MBA’s, far fewer actually make it into work. And, with many companies and public sector organisations currently re-organising, it is the female talent pipeline being hit the hardest.

 

In difficult economic times, budgets to support female talent development are either non-existent or are being significantly squeezed, but this shouldn’t be a business’ excuse for doing nothing. A combination of well-informed leaders and managers and strengths-based self-support for emerging female leaders can be a successful development fusion.

 

In our view, three groups of people can champion female talent development:

 

Leaders:

 

Specifically set out to sponsor the development of several of the emerging female leaders in your organisation. Be aware of the women around you that would benefit from your mentorship or sponsorship. Let them know why you will sponsor them and what they can expect from you.

 

Recent research by Harvard University found that women consistently seek out mentors and sponsors of less power and status than their male colleagues, instantly limiting their access to the most senior individuals in an organisation. So the more senior you are, the lower you might consider reaching down into your talent pipeline; it will have the longest sustainable impact.

 

Managers:

 

Be aware that women will typically behave differently than their male colleagues when it comes to approaching their development. Research conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management on senior leaders, found that half of women surveyed experienced feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career, but only 31 per cent of men reported the same. The research also revealed that women tend not to put themselves forward for promotion: 20 per cent of men said they would apply for a role despite only partially meeting its job description, compared to only 14 per cent of women. Couple this with studies from Aston University which highlight that women are more apologetic in meetings and that managers have a critical role to play in developing women’s confidence and offering regular feedback on influencing styles and profile.

 

Women:

 

Know your strengths and power.

 

Early in our careers we often can get bogged down ‘gap filling’, focusing on weaknesses. Although critical areas for development shouldn’t be ignored, this shouldn’t be to the detriment of excelling the development of strengths.

 

Be aware that investing in developing your strengths will impact your confidence, self-esteem and capacity to achieve your goals. Similarly, studies have also shown that when women understand their different power bases, they are better able to use them than their male colleagues.

 

This ultimately will mean that although business is more competitive, strengths and power base development offer you a winning combination for success.

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Can Only Superwomen Make it to the Top?

Posted by: Nicky Garcea, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

You just gave your power away.”

 

I can remember being mortified the first time someone said this to me. Upset because they were right, and embarrassed because I was oblivious to what I had done. Researching and studying power bases has made me far more attuned to the behavioural ticks that can trip me up and undermine my leadership.

 

Like many women, I was a serial apologiser: “I’m sorry”, “I might be wrong, but …”, “Forgive me if I’m not right …”, “I don’t mean to…” The apologies just tripped of my tongue without me even realising what I was doing.

 

It was actually the combined efforts and forthright feedback from my Dad, and fellow Capp Director, Alex, who supported me in kicking my ‘sorry habit’. I now know there is more to power than just reclaiming what we give away, so much more.

 

I hope you read my Financial Mail blog and find there are many power bases that you can use to make yourself stronger, and recognise also that sometimes you really can be Superwoman on your way to the top. The blog is published on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum - I hope you enjoy it!

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Where Should We Find the Women? Overcoming the Unwitting Sexism that Surrounds Us (Part 4)

Posted by: Nicky Garcea and Alex Linley, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

In our blog posts over the course of this week, we have explored the role of subliminal messaging and unconscious bias in creating the impression of the social roles that women should take in society.

 

These subliminal messages and unconscious biases are all the more pernicious for this very reason – because they are subliminal and unconscious. But the real opportunity is to harness their power, turning it to our advantage through acknowledging and celebrating the role of women in our society.

 

While we can’t re-write history, we can ensure that our future female generations are not so overtly subjected to the absence of celebrated and successful women in the environments in which they grow up.

 

Here are a handful of ideas for how this could happen.

 

1. The media should be challenged with ensuring that women are appropriately represented across their content. When no sportswomen are put forward for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, it sends the message that no woman was worthy. Are we really saying that half of our sporting population simply wasn’t good enough – and the entire female half at that?

 

2. Public platforms and other profile events should be encouraged to take on the mantle of championing female achievement and success, as a counterweight to rebalance the weight of the subliminal messages that otherwise exist. Can we work that bit harder to acknowledge, celebrate and remember the work of female role models in everyday life? This can happen in the media, in schools, by parents, in communities and within the world of business. Who are the successful women in your family, in your community, in your network? Take active steps to celebrate them, share their names and achievements, and recognise their successes as a first step to inspiring other women to do the same. After all, men have had the benefit of this subliminal inspiration for generations.

 

3. Companies and organisations should recognise that there is an explicit need specifically to support and develop women. Women should be offered more opportunities to develop early in their careers. They should be helped to understand how they can equip themselves to influence with power and impact, recognising the challenges they might face, but also embracing the opportunities to develop, to change and to make a positive difference.

 

4. Calling all town planners and building developers. What would it take for a few of our future streets to celebrate more women, for example, ‘Dame Kelly Holmes Drive’,  ‘Tessa Sanderson Street’, ‘Rebecca Adlington Way’, ‘Jessica Ennis Avenue’? Will we see this in our lifetime? With the further re-development of east London following the London 2012 Olympics, what a great opportunity we have for an Olympic legacy that goes beyond sport, building a legacy to great British women as well.

 

5. Women should be champions of helping other women. There is the well-recognised ‘Old Boys’ Network’ that makes things happen for men. In the 21st Century, isn’t it time that we started to develop the ‘Young Women’s Network’ to support making things happen for women? Unfortunately, women being champions of other women doesn’t happen enough. But now, with the leadership of female figureheads including Karren Brady, the momentum for change is building…

 

With these five ideas, our aim was to get your thinking started. What else would you add to this list? Let us know by sharing your Comments on The Capp Blog, and watch out for future posts as we build more on this hugely important topic.

 

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Where are the Women Conference Speakers? The Unwitting Sexism that Surrounds Us (Part 3)

Posted by: Alex Linley, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

I have just returned from a fabulous two days at Le Web in London. Organised and hosted by Geraldine and Loic Le Meur, Le Web is recognised as one of the most exciting internet and technology conferences around. This was no exception, with contributions from people like Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, Niklas Zennstrom, CEO and Founding Partner of Atomico Partners (but perhaps better known to date for founding Skype) and Martha Lane Fox, our very own UK Digital Champion.

 

Nudged by Sarah Szalavitz, writing in Wired magazine (04.12, p. 65), I was interested in the question of “Where are the women conference speakers?” A quick tally up of the speakers at Le Web suggests 70 male conference speakers relative to 9 female speakers, and 27 male interviewers relative to 4 female interviewers (Le Web uses a great combination of presentations, together with lots of interviews on Loic’s famous sofa).

 

Let me be very clear: this isn’t a rant about Le Web – the conference was as superb as ever. But it is another opportunity for us to look at the subliminal messages that surround us about women, and about what women can and can’t do, and should and shouldn’t do – at least as suggested by these subliminal messages.

 

By my very rough estimation, the proportion of male to female conference speakers (7:1) was maybe only slightly lower than the proportion of male to female delegates (I’m guessing at 6:1), but it does make it even more important that we give visibility to female conference speakers who can engage, educate, entertain and inspire their peers together with an emerging generation of female talent.

 

To this end, Caroline Ghosn, CEO and Co-Founder of The Levo League deserves a special mention. The Levo League is an online community for Gen Y professional women, designed to help them through modern career challenges and development, so a great platform to address some of the very challenges that we are exploring as part of Female Leaders Month at Capp.

 

Martha Lane Fox – whom many of you will know from lastminute.com fame – also deserves a special mention, not only as an inspiring woman herself, but as someone working to inspire under-served populations in the UK through the power of the internet and modern technology. Working with the UK government, Martha Lane Fox is also helping the internet transform public service provision – a topic being spearheaded by the fantastic Mike Bracken, Executive Director of Digital, and one person who is restoring my faith in government to get caught up to the 21st Century.

 

And to complete the credits, I’d love to take this opportunity to acknowledge the other female speakers at Le Web, in the hope that it encourages more women in technology to step forward and showcase their own talents. Respect to:

 

Sandy Carter, Vice President, Social Business Sales and Evangelism, IBM Corporation

Sonia Carter, Head of Digital, Kraft Foods Europe

Soraya Darabi, Co-Founder, Foodspotting

Carla Henry, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty and Fragrances (L’Oreal Luxe)

Madlen Nicolaus, Senior Marketing & Community Manager, Salesforce Radian6

Maria Poveromo, Director, Social Media Systems, Adobe Systems, Inc.  

Rebecca Quinn, Director of EU Strategy & Operations, Wildfire Interactive

 

I hope they serve to inspire the many talented women in the world to stand up and take every opportunity they can to showcase their own talents, and in turn, to inspire other women to do the same.

 

It’s only by doing so that we will be able to start to overcome the subliminal messages that otherwise undermine our intent and ambition, often without us even realising. It’s time for us to change that.

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Where Have All the Women Gone? The Unwitting Sexism that Surrounds Us (Part 2)

Posted by: Nicky Garcea, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

Yesterday I started to explore the ubiquity and impact of subliminal messaging in relation to gender roles. In today’s blog, I look specifically at some of the environmental subliminal messages that influence women’s views of themselves and how they perceive their capacity to be successful.

 

  • Women are often under-represented in the media: There continues to be an absence of women, and particularly older women, in the media. I yearn for the day when there are more women than men – or even the same number! – on TV judging panels. The Apprentice, The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, and myriad others all provide examples. I have recently been watching the Great British Menu, and across the entire series, the only female judging chef I noted was Angela Hartnett. Yes, there are fewer professional female chefs, but there are definitely more than just one – see, for example, Clare Smyth, Frances Atkins and Rachel Humphrey.

 

  • Women are not remembered as much in history: There are fewer serious female role models written about and celebrated. I always appreciate the Guardian’s Inspirational Women List that is generated as part of International Women’s Day on the 8th March each year, but it is a shame that we have to wait for this annual event to be reminded of ‘Great Women’. When Alex wrote The Strengths Book, he worked tirelessly to ensure that there was an equal split between the male and female role models who were included.

 

  • Women are not as often used as the source of notable quotes: The lack of quotes from women used in diaries, books, newspapers and social media is astonishing. Occasionally, we might find something noted by Emily Dickinson or Virginia Woolf, but there are far more notable words from wise women that we can draw from than just these two. Try Maya Angelou and Aung San Suu Kyi, as just two of hundreds of possible examples.

 

 

  • Despite progress, there are continued gender pay differences: Research from the Institute of Chartered Management in 2011 found that the difference between what men and women are paid for doing the same job ranged from £500 to £10,546 in different professions. Yes, this is a complex issue, but at some point in a woman’s career, she is likely to experience receiving less pay than her male colleagues for doing the same work. This simply cannot be right.

 

  • Even the streets on which we walk are named after men: As we look around us, even the names of our streets demonstrate unwitting sexism! In April 2012, the BBC noted the work of Italian researcher Maria Pia Ercolini, who painstakingly went through every one of Rome’s 16,550 streets to determine the gender balance of street names. Ercolini and her team found that 7,575 (45.7%) of the city’s streets were named after men, and just 580 (3.5%) were named after women. Similar findings can be seen in most other European cities, including London. Some might say, ‘What’s in a street name?’ but this is just another unconscious cue in our environment that suggests to us that women are invisible in our history.

 

In every one of these cases, it most likely isn’t a deliberate choice to discriminate against women, but this cannot excuse the reality of the subliminal messaging that these choices create. On Friday, Alex and I will look at what can be done to challenge and change the messages we give about gender in our modern world.

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Where Have All the Women Gone? The Unwitting Sexism that Surrounds Us (Part 1)

Posted by: Nicky Garcea and Alex Linley, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

Alex and I are fascinated by the way our environmental surroundings, social norms and expectations create powerful but unwitting subliminal messages that impact the way we behave. Of particular interest to us is the question of how unspoken cues, images and the typical absence of women’s representation in our built environment shape the subliminal messages that permeate society. From this, we are interested in how these subliminal messages combine to influence young women’s career choices and subsequently their desire to become female leaders in organisations.

 

These are issues that we will explore throughout this week, with this being Part 1 of a 4-part blog series for Capp’s Female Leaders Month.

 

Growing up, I never personally questioned or considered that my career choices should be limited by gender. My parents brought me up in the same way that they brought up my elder brother. I come from a family of working women – my Great Grandmother, Grandma and Mum all worked. Until I was 18, I had only ever known a female Prime Minister, and of course, to me as I grew up, that was nothing unusual.

 

It wasn’t until I landed my first consulting role that I heard the phrase, “No woman has ever returned to work after having a child and made it as a consultant.” Somewhat surprisingly, the limit of my gender and youth was first bought home to me by a woman. I was 26 and a guest speaker at a Women in Leadership Network event. When I arrived to deliver my presentation, dressed in a white shirt and black suit, having gone to introduce myself to the organiser, I was greeted with the words, “Not now, darling, can you clear the plates please, we are waiting for our speaker to arrive.”

 

From those days onwards, it has become a hobby for us to note what cues exist in the world around us, that are small ‘tells’ to women that this is not a place for them, as women, to be successful and to lead. My favourite example recently was the market researcher who, after establishing the occupation of the main breadwinner in the house (i.e., myself, a company director), went on to ask, “And how many staff does Mr Garcea have working for him?”

 

My second favourite is the car salesman who once tried to sell me a car by demonstrating all the places where I could store my make-up bag. He had failed to establish the fact I drove 20,000 miles a year, so storing my make-up was not a priority for me, whereas fuel economy and a comfortable driving position were!

 

With these subliminal messages all around us, we turn our attention tomorrow to some of the wider social and environmental cues that also send the message to women that ‘this isn’t for you’ – despite the fact that – we suspect – this was never for a moment the intention of the people making the decisions!

 

Such, for better or worse, is the power of subliminal messaging.

 

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Remembering Mothers on Father’s Day

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Today in the UK, and many other countries around the world, we celebrate Father’s Day, a day that always brings me mixed emotions. Yes, it’s entirely right that we should celebrate, and be grateful for, the critical role that fathers play in the lives of their children.

 

But  I, for one – and I suspect I speak on behalf of many fathers when I say this – could not do what I do without the support, wisdom and encouragement of my wife, and mother to our four children.

 

So, here’s to you, Jenny Linley, and all the other wives, partners and mothers who are so often the linchpins of family life all around the world.

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The Topic of Women in Leadership – An Historical Glance

Posted by: Alex Linley, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

The topic of women in leadership, and what we need to do to encourage and enable more women to take seats in the boardrooms of UK plc, have rightly been the attention of much recent interest and debate. In this blog, I’d like to share an historical glance on this same topic.

 

I have been reading The Company Chairman by Sir Adrian Cadbury, also author of the Cadbury Report on corporate governance and a preeminent figure in this field. On page 1 of his introduction, starting in the second paragraph, Sir Adrian states:

 

“One question which needs to be settled at the outset is what title to give to the individual who chairs a board or committee. The straightforward answer is ‘chairman’, but for fear that this might give the misleading impression that all chairmen are male, two other designations have been brought into use, mainly by local government. They are ‘chair’ and ‘chairperson’. The drawback to these two options is that they achieve neutrality of gender at the expense of clear, accepted English.”

 

Sir Adrian continues:

 

“…you can take the chair, or put someone in the chair, but the chair is the position of authority, not the person who is sitting in it…I come back, therefore, to the word ‘chairman’, because…its dictionary definition is both established and precise: ‘The occupier of a chair of authority; the person chosen to preside over a meeting, a company, a corporate body etc.’ (Shorter OED 1975).

 

“It is clear from this definition that the occupier of the chair can be a woman or a man and it is in this sense that chairmen are referred to throughout the book. I make that point, because I regard it as of the first importance that the scales should not appear to be further loaded against women in the male-dominated world of British business; British companies would gain from having more women as board members, which would in turn lead to the appointment of more women as chairmen. In the meantime, anyone who thinks that the term ‘chairman’ excludes women has only to consult the dictionary.” [italics added]

 

This book was published in 1990, yet here we are 20 years later still grappling with the same challenges, albeit with progress being made. What will the next 20 years bring?

 

At Capp, we believe the future is female, and it’s long overdue time to realise more female leadership talent. We’re sure Sir Adrian would have approved.

 

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Women’s Secret Weapon to Success in Juggling Home and Work

Posted by: Nicky Garcea, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

As a new mum, I understand the pressure of appearing to be able ‘to do it all’. As we continue to celebrate Female Leaders Month at Capp, I am pleased to share with you one of my blogs that was published on Changeboard. In this blog, I offer you three tips for using your strengths more on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy, tilting, being you, and aligning your strengths to action!

 

With the expectation that today’s female leaders need to be able to show that they can truly ‘do it all’, Nicky Garcea, director at organisational psychology firm Capp, explores the impact of the need to be a ‘juggler’ has on female talent development and well-being, and highlights ways that ‘doing less’, but thinking more strategically about using strengths can be women’s secret weapon to success.

 

In my experience of working with women globally, their feeling of needing to ‘do it all’ and ‘do it all well’ is unanimous. And if the pressure to juggle jam-packed home lives with getting a promotion wasn’t stressful enough, researchers also believe that this desire to balance home and work causes a significant decline in happiness.

 

So why at a time when we have more opportunities to progress our careers do we feel sadder? There is a school of thought that suggests it might be women’s desire for balance that is behind some of these statistics. That the pressure society and we put on ourselves to be good at everything has a detrimental impact on our well-being.

 

So what does this mean for those women striving to move up the career ladder? Firstly, you can’t do it all alone. You need other people to help keep the balls moving. Ezzedeen and Ritchy call this a ‘village of support’. Secondly, that the secret to success might be in creating ‘imbalance’ and this is where strengths can help.

 

One of the distinguishing features between men and women during their 30s and 40s is that men report being both more directive and strategic with their career decisions. They predominately do two things differently:

 

1.    They don’t get busy just ‘doing’ or being helpful. They are more selective with their career choices and more vocal with their expectations.

 

2.    They don’t wait until they have acquired the confidence and skills before putting themselves forward for promotion, they take more risks and self promote more easily.

 

So what does this mean for women?

 

My advice to women is to look at their strengths and learn how to use them to best effect. Strengths are defined as having three specific components: energy, performance and use.

 

This simple three step process helps individuals to identify that if they spend a lot of time working on things which they perform well at, but have to do, will actually drain their energy.

 

In Capp’s Realise2 4M Model, we would call this a ‘learned behaviour’. Drawing continually on our learned behaviours, has a detrimental impact on our energy and could be one of the reasons that our happiness decreases.

 

My recommendation to emerging female leaders seeking to maximise their strengths, is to spend less time trying to do a lot of things ‘ok’, but actually to do less better.

 

Some of the ways that women can achieve this imbalance is by:

 

1. Tilting

Know your strengths and seek to work more on activities and in roles which expose your strengths. Others will then see you perform well but will also note your energy and passion for what you are doing. In a Capp study of the highly engaged, I noted that engaged individuals use their strengths 70% of any given week. Challenge yourself to do more of what you love and to find strategies to work around the areas which you find draining.

 

2. Being you

Female leaders are expected to be more congruent than their male colleagues. When you lead using your strengths others perceive you as more authentic. Reflect on the strengths which you believe have been with you across your life and career to-date. How can you make sure that through how you lead these strengths are protected, nurtured and developed so they are part of your unique brand of leadership? What do you want to be known for?

 

3. Aligning strengths to action

It is often the case that we see our greatest area of growth being in our areas of greatest weakness, but it is in fact in using our strengths. Take time and engage others in helping you to identify your rich tapestry of strengths; including those you use a lot (realised) and those you use less (unrealised). Then set about challenging yourself to align your different strengths to different activities inside and outside of work. Our research, shows that you will achieve your desired goals and outcomes quicker.

 

Strengths-based female leadership development helps women to develop their confidence and authenticity. It also provides them with a language to develop their own specific leadership brand. Developing our strengths could be seen as just another ball to keep moving, but focusing on our unique gifts rather than trying to be well-rounded has career and life benefits.

 

So ask yourself, what can you stop doing today so you can use your strengths more tomorrow?

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