It’s rather alarming that we are in the 21st century and yet there are still so few women in top corporate positions. According to Pew Research, women make up only 5.2% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies and 5.4% of CEOs in Fortune 1000 companies.
Why is that?
Some of it is the result of inherent challenges that women still face in the workplace – being given equal consideration for leadership opportunities, being paid equally, sexual discrimination and harassment, finding a mentor or champion to guide them in their career, balancing work and home life.
Some of it is perception – many corporate cultures still think of men as the natural choice when it comes to leadership, adopting an attitude of “men take charge, women take care.”
And some of it is that the skills and behaviors that help women early in their careers may be working against them as they strive to advance up the corporate ladder.
World-renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith and women’s leadership expert Sally Helgesen took a look at these self-limiting skills and behaviors in their recently-published book, How Women Rise.
Based on their combined 60 years of experience working with leaders all over the world, the authors identified 12 habits that hold women back from getting their next raise, their next promotion or their next job. Although these are not uniquely women’s behaviors, Goldsmith and Helgesen observed that these 12 habits are the most likely to create a barrier for women in getting to where they want to be – in their career or in their life.
One of the first habits the authors talk about is women’s reluctance to point out their achievements. They don’t want to appear to be bragging. And they have a natural tendency to want to share credit with others – “it was a team effort.” Men, on the other hand, are less likely to feel shy about sharing what they’ve accomplished. By not promoting their personal achievements, women often don’t get the recognition (or the opportunities) they deserve.
Another habit they discuss is “The Perfection Trap.” Goldsmith/Helgesen attribute this behavior to the differing messages girls and boys get from their families growing up. Girls are often praised for their precision and for supporting others. Boys are praised for their daring exploits, competitiveness and winning. As children turn into adults, the messages evolve into personal beliefs about success and how to function in society and the workplace.
The good news is, How Women Rise doesn’t just provide insight about the particular habits that may be holding women back. The authors also provide detailed tutoring on how to replace those habits with behaviors that will lead to better results.
Tune in next time when we’ll explore more of the 12 habits and how to turn them around.