How to Develop the Conversation Around Female Leadership

Spending over 2 decades working in and working alongside multi-national and global corporate organisations, I continue to witness the evolving landscape of mistrust, lack of support, office politics, disparagement, and disrespect. Even though the conversation around female leadership and women in business has evolved, there is still so much more work and investment required.

This is not a reminder; rather more of an appeal for us as leaders to rise to the challenge. Collectively we can speed up the trajectory of women in leadership, with 3 foundational approaches:

Reach Out: Many traditional mentorship and leadership programmes see young professionals become matched to more senior and established employees, according to career aspiration or similar alignment. Based on the often-limited availability of senior leaders, meetings that should take place regularly, rarely occur. Many of the challenges or issues that need a mentor’s counsel are therefore frequently unaddressed and festering matters unresolved. A more prudent approach would be to create an environment where all employees feel safe to reach out to whomever they need to within the organisation.

When there is an actual requirement, and when the situation is current and live, the mentorship and coaching is more relatable and insightful.

As leaders, we can never be too busy or too important to show others we care and are there when needed. Schedule calls in the diary and set the agenda for the call… and be intentional in expressing recognition, empowerment, and enablement as the main themes. These always go a long way, whether the call is about something challenging or not. As leaders, our mistake is to wait for the call, when we should be taking the initiative to reach out.

This works both ways. In my early days as a professional, I remember thinking ‘He or She is too important for me’. I was frequently anxious about whether the need or challenge was appropriate to be raised, and a lack of self-confidence and assertiveness stopped me form initiating key conversations that should have been had.  The only way to close this gap is for us to show a genuine interest with our circle of influence or network. Be courageous and trust that leaders are willing to help, in the same way that you, in your leadership role, are prepared to help others.

Build Trust – We need to be okay with showing vulnerability and sharing our failures as a leader and a team member. As a Dale Carnegie trainer, I know I need to demonstrate confidence, passion and enthusiasm in my role of presenter, facilitator and consultant. There are times when I am pushed into new or complex projects which requires me to be flexible in preparation and in delivery, which naturally arouse feelings of self-doubt and self-criticism.

Recently, I reached out to a team of experts to review and provide honest feedback on a global project I was working on and felt way out of my comfort zone with. Being vulnerable and reaching out to a team of experts helped me get fresh insights, new perspectives and valuable ideas needed to transform what I was working on to a whole new level. Building trust with others comes with trusting yourself and intuition first. Then we will know which mentors, leaders and team will have our back and are eager to support!

Be Unconditional – As our professional lives are predominately consumed and driven by targets, checklists, deadlines etc…, it may be normal for leaders to be concerned with giving to receive.  One example of this is of personal branding and followership. We start to become focused on the growing list of LinkedIn or Facebook connections we make, or the number of likes and responses from a post – which gives a synthetic sense of popularity and followership. How can we be fully present and authentically there for someone when in the back of our mind, we are wondering about the right time for a referral or recommendation?

Absolutely, marketing strategies are required, especially in today’s hybrid work model. The reality though, is that when there is a fixation on the metrics, we drop the quality of our attention and the presence of mind to be wholly with our client, team member, friend or family member, and this gets seen and felt by the other person. Being unconditional means being clear on our values and staying true to them – never expecting something in return!

Dale Carnegie’s timeless human relations principles provides us with the framework to elevate our practice with Reaching Out, Building Trust and Being Unconditional. When more of us continue to invest in others, we create “Legacy leadership” the type of leadership which can change the world!

Eudeshi Naidu is a Senior Performance Consultant, Trainer and Producer for Dale Carnegie London. With a background in Corporate Governance, Eudeshi joined Dale Carnegie in 2011 to follow her passion into people transformation, and strategically partners with her clients to bring out the best in their people. Passionate about female leadership, she was a guest speaker at the 2021 International Women’s Day Organisation’s event.

To learn more about leadership development:

Lead Like a Woman – Women in Business

Dale Carnegie Course

Develop Your Leadership Potential

Leadership Training for Results