Updated: Mar 8
Female leaders did a lot to pave the way, but there’s still a long way to go. Find out how to keep shaping the leaders of tomorrow.
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg
The female leaders of today have done amazing things to get where they are. From powerful politicians to savvy CEOs who bring their companies to new heights. It seems like the past decade was full of peaks for women.
They’ve opened doors and broken down barriers.
But their responsibilities don’t end there.
Where would these powerful women be without the generation before them - those sometimes nameless and faceless women who’ve helped elevate today’s leaders to where they are today?
Part of the reason why great female leaders are where they are today, is the generation before them. And now it’s time to pay it forward.
Today’s leaders have accomplished much to pave the way for a new generation. But they shouldn’t just rest on their laurels. There is still plenty of work to do to ensure that tomorrow’s female leaders have the same opportunities.
It’s time to empower and inspire the next generation of female leaders. And this article will give you a few tips on how to do it.
Leading by example is one way to inspire a new generation of female leaders. But there are many things you can do for them, and yourself, to take empowerment to a new level.
#1 – Take Time to Help Other Women Develop
Women make up more than half of the population. But despite that large presence, they only make up 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
How can you make a difference and change those numbers?
You need to make it part of your mission in life to develop female talent.
That can come in the form of hiring more women if you’re in a position to do so. Or it may mean mentoring women you believe have what it takes to excel.
Developing strong onboarding and training programs for your company may also help. Try pairing new employees with sponsors or mentors that meet with them regularly. Have them answer questions and discuss their career trajectory so they know where they’re going.
Also, you can make it a point to connect employees to resources that help with ongoing development and opportunities.
But don’t forget to give them time away from their job. They need that time away so that they can take advantage of those opportunities.
You can be a mentor, too, if your schedule allows for it. Let a promising talent shadow you for a day. Show them what you do and inspire them to grow.
When you create more opportunities, you become part of the solution. You are integral for shaping the world for them.
#2 – Refuse to Stay in a Box
Creating new pathways may not be easy. But things won’t change unless you’re willing to put yourself out there and pave your own way.
When you do that, female leaders of the next generation are free to follow you.
Think about every successful woman who arrived before you.
Coco Chanel was a forward thinker who transformed what society thinks about fashion and relationships.
Indira Gandhi was the first female prime minister of India. She strongly advocated for women’s rights in a country ruled by antiquated patriarchal ideals.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States. But she wasn’t just a president’s wife. She had her own mind and wasn’t afraid to speak out about women’s rights and other humanitarian causes.
Lastly, Oprah Winfrey had one of the most successful and longest-running daytime talk shows on television. Her show broadcasted all over the world. But she didn’t just take her success and hide away.
She used her power and influence to establish a leadership academy for girls.
All of these women challenged the status quo and created pathways that changed history for women.
#3 – Embrace Your Own Feminine Energy (And Inspire Others to Do the Same)
Do you have to think like a man to be successful in leadership?
Men and women are different. To pretend otherwise is a lesson in futility.
You can’t be something that you’re not.
So, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to mask your femininity when you enter the C-suite.
Men and women think and act differently. Is it any wonder that they may run a business differently?
What does that mean for you?
It means that it’s okay to trust your intuition and amplify compassion. When you let your feminine qualities show through, it leads to a more holistic way of doing business.
Don’t apologise for being a woman.
You don’t need to pretend you have the stereotypical masculine leadership qualities to advance into leadership.
Step into your true identity as a woman.
That may mean being open and transparent in your leadership role. It may mean that you own your emotions or are clear about values. Or it could mean showing vulnerabilities and even fears.
Modern audiences and the new generation of leaders are watching you. Show them that you’re not afraid to show your feminine energy - even when climbing the corporate ladder.
#4 – Encourage Women to Solve Problems
Imagine if a business checked off all the boxes and seems to promote female talent in their ranks. They hire the best talent and make sure to onboard and train them properly. That same business has programs that develop and engage talented women to keep them in the company.
That’s all that you can ask for, right?
There’s one final push that women need, though.
To see more senior leadership opportunities, you need to empower women to problem-solve.
Senior executive positions don’t just happen. They happen when people receive sponsorship and nurture for those roles. And it’s a process that can take years to achieve.
The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) has a solution for this. To bridge the leadership gap with more female talent, there are a couple of things that need to happen.
First, men at all levels of the business community need more education. They need to learn about the problem as well as potential solutions. The more information men get, the more likely you will have their support and investment.
Also, businesses simply need more formal sponsorship programs. Design these programs to personally guide them into senior leadership roles.
#5 – Provide Fulfilling Work to Young Women
Hiring and developing female talent are essential steps to promote female leadership. But all that training won’t do you any good if they leave the company.
Women leave a company for a variety of reasons. Some have an unsatisfying work-life balance, while others may experience frustration with a lack of promotion opportunities.
These women, though, are leaving at an alarming rate.
So, how do you retain female talent in your business?
The answer isn’t that simple.
Many women leave mid-career when they have children. Balancing their new responsibilities and their job becomes too much of a challenge. When forced to choose, women opt to take care of their family.
One way to help retain women who have trouble balancing work and home has to do with your business’ policies and programs. If you have flexible and accommodating options for working mothers, they may be more likely to stay.
And when women choose to stay at a job, you have time to nurture them into a leadership position.
#6 – Avoid “Queen Bee” Syndrome
The Queen Bee phenomenon is all about competition. But it isn’t women versus men. Instead, you’ll see senior management-level women creating distance from women who are their junior.
They do this in the hope that male colleagues would be more likely to accept them.
However, when women give other women the cold shoulder, it can permeate the work environment. Instead of collaboration, women create a culture of competition.
Eventually, communication breaks down and it’s every woman for herself.
There are some things you can do to empower and encourage women in the same company to work together.
Create a dedicated space just for women and give them an area to share and celebrate with each other. Bringing people together creates a sense of unity and improves the flow of information. It lets women know, “We’re all in this together”.
Eventually, women stop seeing problems that are specific to them. Instead, these problems turn into collective challenges where women can support and help each other.
Empowerment and Inspiration Starts with You
You have the power to uplift the next generation of female leaders.
It all starts with you and how you carry yourself.
Embrace your femininity and let others see that you’re not ashamed of your true self. Likewise, embrace the community of women at your workplace. They’re there to support you as you support them.
Only when you work together can you breach the upper echelons of leadership.
And don’t neglect the role you play in your own company.
You can directly impact the next generation of female leaders. Seek them out. Develop and train them.
Make sure that they have ample opportunities to grow and you’ll see many more women eager to step up to the challenge.
If you’d like more words of inspiration, contact me for your next speaker event. Let me help your organisation empower women to greater heights.