When women first entered the workforce in large numbers a few decades back, the socio-cultural conditioning of women through their childhood and as young adults resulted in them not opting to put their careers first, and they remained ‘home primary’. Work and career were central to men and were expected to be career primary. While to women it was about the fine balance between work and home. Biases and stereotypes were not limited to the minds of men and women. Still, they crept into organizational systems and processes as well, since those in key positions designed them, and the prevailing culture also conditioned them. Thus, even though women felt this discrimination, they could not take charge of their careers.
Clearly, the movement of women to senior roles is not happening fast enough and there is an immediate need for effective women’s leadership training programs in the workplace. These programs will ultimately create more senior positions in companies for women and will help shift the narrative.
The culture of an organization or department and even the views of a single manager can directly impact whether women stay with an organization or leave for something better. The informal patterns of influence and unspoken performance expectations play a role. And, of course, a woman’s individual experiences and perspectives are powerful factors, too.
Below are some listed tips for building an effective leadership program for women-
Address Women’s Leadership Challenges
Ensure your female leaders have the experiences and the resources to learn what they need most. Interventions for developing women leaders on an individual level could include targeted training, guidance for on-the-job learning, coaching opportunities, and mentoring at work.
Tailor the Program
To build out a leadership development program that speaks to the needs of the women at your organization, it’s critical to tailor the program to women of all seniority levels. This begins with recognizing that women across the organization do not all share the same professional goals and desires. For instance, one woman may have the goal of becoming a C-Suite executive, while another may prefer to manage smaller teams or explore only mid-managerial positions. The most successful women’s development programs create space for flexibility and individual goal-setting.
Use a blended learning approach
The core learning content may not be enough to make the required impact. The training should use a blended approach that provides other learning opportunities. For instance, women taking the training are instructed to participate in elaborate, offline role-playing group activities that mimic various real-world workplace scenarios. These activities aid in learning how to handle difficult work situations as leaders, while applying the knowledge learned during the training. This approach also helps to refine critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
Leverage the Power of Choosing
Women leaders should receive messages from an organization that embraces a more individualized and less stereotypical perspective on professional and personal roles that may have historically been categorized as “men’s roles” and “women’s roles.” It’s all part of living with intention, both at work and at home.
Promote Strategic Thinking and Networking
To help women thrive as leaders, an effective women’s leadership training program will encourage women to think strategically. Individual or team roleplays help achieve this goal. In addition, the training should stress the importance of knowledge sharing, active listening, positive communication, and utilizing 360 feedback to facilitate strategic thinking.