Are we creating great leaders or are we holding people back from leading because we see sex as changing the skills a leader needs?
I recently scrolled through the tops posts in two groups I belong to on LinkedIn. In the leadership group, I saw articles on growing your team, dealing with challenging employees, and moderating the needs of clients with your corporate culture. These articles talked about both hard and soft skills a strong leader needs and how to develop them. Pretty standard leadership stuff I thought.
However, from the women in leadership group, I saw very different topics. The most popular subjects included appropriate clothing /jewellery choices and an article posted and written by men asking if women entrepreneurs could make it in a man’s world. Add this to the fact that some of the most popular threads on social media are discussing Hillary Clinton’s favourite designers instead of her policies and I find myself wondering who is to blame for challenges getting women into leadership positions.
So this tells me that women leaders need to know about fashion and failure rates and men need to know about gaining hard and soft skills that help them develop as people managers and executives. Hmm, one of these is not like the other.
When we as managers see someone with work ethic and ambition should we be treating them differently because of their sex?
My answer is no. I see my role as a people manager dedicated to helping grow those that report to me in whatever way they want to develop. If that means grooming them for dealing with challenging situations and teaching them the hard skills that they need I see that as my job.
If I am mentoring either sex I focus on their abilities and opportunities and none of the topics we cover has to do with what necklace or watch they might be wearing.
So how do we develop more women leaders? We start treating all high potential candidates the same way regardless of which washroom they use.