How Can Women Enhance Their Leadership Abilities To Stay On Top Of The Game Of Talent Development?

A woman aspiring for a leadership role often has access to a lot of support – networking groups, mentoring, targeted development programs, coaching and paths to leadership roles among others.


Today, even as women make stupendous progress in their careers, we are faced with unique situations. On one hand, we are celebrating a female president in India and the fact that we will have active female participation in the next US presidential elections, on the other hand, we could really do with a lot more women in the boardrooms. 

Organisations have been trying to address this issue for some time now. Be it through structured training and growth programs or through flexible work arrangements, companies have been trying to grow women employees to leadership roles. A woman aspiring for a leadership role often has access to a lot of support – networking groups, mentoring, targeted development programs, coaching and paths to leadership roles among others. While this exists, women ultimately have to lead the way and navigate their individual leadership journeys. 

I am often asked about the two or three things which a woman should lay priority on if she is serious about climbing up the leadership ladder. Now, this is not to say that everything else should be filed away for the distant future – one should make the most of all the resources that one has access to. However, from my personal experiences, these are the few must haves for a woman striving for the corner office. 

Personal Branding  

Chris Ducker once said, “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” There are all kinds of leaders but those with a strong personal brand inspire others. Your personal brand is how others see you, talk about you and evaluate you for a business decision. If you have a strong personal brand, you become the face of the company, a la Indra Nooyi or a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. Women must invest time and efforts in building a strong personal brand that carries them in their leadership journey. This often revolves around understanding own’s own strengths with a conscious and consistent attempt at investing in one’s own leadership brand by inventing and reinventing oneself. This could mean engaging in external forums, working on one’s executive presence, sharing content on LinkedIn or other forms of social media - this makes for a great start when it comes to sharing views and building a reputation. The trick is in being consistent in sharing your insights, case studies, business experiences and other thoughts that establish a brand that people want to engage with. 

Mentors and sponsors

We all need someone to act as a sounding board and cover our backs. A mentor or coach who can guide, offer honest criticism, and open doors of opportunity is a must-have. Women must actively seek to develop mentors and sponsors who can add tailwinds to their leadership journeys. It is not about the next promotion or the next project – it is about having the support to venture into the unknown, take risks, avail new opportunities or simply work out of one’s comfort zone. The best leaders are often forged in trying and challenging situations. We cannot do it all alone!  

Give Back

Women at the top must make it a priority to have more women, and more diversity, in their teams. They need to mentor and encourage more women to take up leadership roles and serve as strong role models. In my experience, I have seen that the easiest way to reach out is to share personal experiences. It builds trust and creates a bond – one that nurtures and brings to the fore the innate leadership qualities in women. Another way is to play an active role in platforms like women-focused employee resource groups. 

Be it cultural or systemic stereotypes or unconscious bias, women face hurdles as they strive to advance on the leadership ladder. At times like these, it also helps for women to look out for each other even as organisations play their part to propel women to the top. As the world faces uncertainties and challenges at a global scale, it certainly helps to have more senior women at the frontlines of the battle to secure a better tomorrow.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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