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What would it take to have more Women Leaders at the Top?

I was recently reading a KPMG Women’s Leadership Study that highlighted the two elements that affect a woman’s ability to lead are confidence and connections. It also showed the importance of building a women’s confidence in her childhood.

While I’ve written about women’s entrepreneurship development in India, and what is required at a corporate and societal level to encourage more women to take on leadership positions, the elements of confidence and connections are also equally important to discuss. Several studies have shown that girls who are taught about leadership as a child, go on to take on more leadership roles in their careers. While we continue to see a high participation of women in college degrees compared to men, somewhere there is a drop off when we compare them at leadership positions. And while family, corporate and society constraints may contribute to that, in this blog I would like to discuss about the internal constraints.

One of the things I had learnt early on in my career, is to “just say yes”. When an opportunity to do something outside your comfort zone presents itself, women have a higher tendency to doubt their ability to take on the task than men. Learning to step out of your comfort zone, is one of the first steps in the direction of becoming a leader.

Another one of my learnings has been the importance of thinking like a leader even when you’re not in a leadership role. This means taking initiative where needed and being assertive where it is required to put your viewpoint across. Teaching young girls, about putting their viewpoint across and thinking for themselves is important.

Lastly, it is understanding the importance of building a network of other women, leaders, and people around you, who can help support and grow you in your career. Many women claim to not be good networkers. But I’ve learnt that networking is not only about going for corporate social events and outings, it’s about investing in building relationships. I’ve seen several introvert people have powerful networks, so it doesn’t always need to be built over after-office drinks.

So, as more people start paying attention to breaking the barrier for women to become leaders, starting the conversation about leadership young is something worth thinking about.

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