A key focus area of this article: Now, how can we help women to be authentic at home AND at work AND with themselves?
The 2022 Women of The World in Leadership report, a qualitative study (WOW factors published by Global Coaching Lab) revealed meaningful stories from women leaders who showcased their strength, tenacity, balance and drive to reach the portals of power. A common thread that strings their experiences is their inner drive aka conative intelligence that has supported them faithfully through their journey.
The Paradox of Challenges
To sustain and nurture this inner drive aka conative intelligence, it is important for women to develop coping strategies in a deliberate manner. As women at work face multiples challenges to balance and integrate their professional and personal lives, a conscious effort to work on these coping strategies can help them navigate the web of expectations they are subjected to.
Most times, the warrior spirit with its inner drive and energy can get clouded by the victim spirit and tiredness.
How many of you are authentic at home and not at work?
How many of you are authentic at work and not at home?
How many of you are authentic both at home and work but not to yourself?
When we ask women these questions, the third one often receives the maximum show of hands. Now, how can we help women to be authentic at home AND at work AND with themselves? This is a very important question for all stakeholders who are invested in helping more women arrive at the portals of power and serve as leaders.
I once received the leaves of a very rare flowering plant from my spiritual mentor. She said, all I need to do was to plant these leaves in a pot filled with good soil and they should grow. Happily, I came home and potted the leaves and started taking care of the plant. For a few months, the two leaves remained as planted. I was curious and wondered when I can see further growth. A few more months passed, and I was now a bit anxious and moved the pot to other sections of the garden to see if things improved, adding the right soil nutrients. Nothing happened. Then out of frustration, I moved the plant from the garden to the terrace. Just after a few weeks, I saw more leaves and then one fine day a bud appeared. The plant flowered and flourished at a different altitude. Now it is a flourishing plant with its rare flowers giving me hope, blessings and joy.
Even through my anxiety and frustration, I did not allow the plant to die. My goal was clear. Nurturing alone was not enough in this case, I had to continuously take some specific actions to bring the plant to flourish.
In a similar manner, women at work need to flourish. To flourish personally and professionally, they need to develop an experimentative mindset and keep at it. Keeping their professional goals clear helps women plan the necessary steps to attain both achievement and fulfillment, at work and life.
Coping Strategies to Flourish
1. Being intentional about time
As women aspire for balance and harmony to lead their personal and professional lives, it becomes important for them to plan their time effectively. Being clear about what is truly meaningful and important.
Questions to reflect:
- How much of family time is important for me?
- How much within that family time, is spent on enriching experiences?
- How much time should be spent on professional development?
- How much upskilling time I need for my growth and development?
- How much of time do I give for my health and creative diversity?
- How much of personal “me-time” is important for me to follow my passion?
Every individual has finite time. How you plan and spend time is important, more so for women as one of the key reasons for women to leave the workforce is their failure to plan and be intentional about time.
2. Creating listening posts around you
As your energy graph oscillates from the warrior to the victim, it is important for you to have the right listening posts, people who engage in active listening to help you clarify your thoughts, sequence your focus and benefit from their perspectives.
Sometimes the act of sharing reciprocated by caring can make your world less overbearing.
Questions to reflect:
- Do I have a personal board of directors?
- Am I ready to find a spiritual mentor?
- Do I have a professional board of directors?
- Most human beings overestimate their capabilities and contributions, have I showcased vulnerability with my listening post?
3. Being intentional about mentorship
One of the key reasons for success stated by women in senior leadership positions is the support they received from mentors. Today, it is not too difficult to find mentors within and outside the organization.
Therefore, it is no longer about “finding the mentor”. It is about the quality of the meeting and the rhythm that defines progress.
These mentorship sessions are wonderful opportunities to disentangle your thinking and gain guidance on how to stay focused amidst chaos.
If you are introverted, seek the support of other stakeholders including your manager to deliberately provide you with mentorship opportunities. Under no circumstance your introversion should be an inhibition towards the imperative need of mentoring.
Questions to reflect:
- How am I taking deliberate action following my conversations with my mentor?
- Have I taken time to find mentors outside my organization, where their clarity of distance can help me move outside my comfort zones?
- Have I provided a memorable experience for my mentor, through my energy and commitment levels to?
- Has my mentor learned anything new from me?
4. Rising above the gravitational pull of the mundane
Given the cornucopia of priorities handled by women on a day-to-day basis, it is important for women to set aside some time to step back and gain perspective. This deliberate act of slowing down has far reaching effects in helping women clarify the often faced “guilt syndromes” and de-fog the vision towards professional goals.
The number of transactional activities managed by women everyday are far higher than men, given the higher involvement of women in managing their families and its priorities. Therefore, consciously developing habits to keep the focus on the bigger picture and letting go of the transactional approach to life will help women showcase their strengths and resolve to aspire and achieve as leaders.
Questions to reflect:
- How many people do I speak with who are outside my comfort zone?
- How can I be intentional about my “step back” time?
- How are my choices in life helping me to balance my leadership hormones – serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins?
- How am I vocalizing support and direction with my family?
- How can I achieve more with my clarity and conviction?
- Do I carve out time to stop the chatter in my head and connect with my soul and its wisdom?
- Do I feel guilty with my digital distractions and still have not found ways to support myself?
5. Developing the courage to use one’s voice
Women moving into leadership need to leverage their voice to achieve more. Be it an opportunity to speak up in the most important meetings, or asking for recognition or courageously handling workplace biases, harnessing the power of one’s voice is important for women.
Many times, talented and capable women have missed opportunities to excel at work by simply keeping quiet or being under the radar. There are fears, uncertainties and doubts that hold women back.
Therefore, consciously improving articulation along with upskilling in business and financial acumen will help women successfully navigate their path towards leadership with a powerful voice.
Questions to reflect:
- What are my fears when it comes to speaking up?
- What life events have triggered that?
- How can I take actions on my FUDSIs (Fears, uncertainties, doubts, skepticism and inertia)?
- It need not always be alone, who can help you overcome and handle your FUDSIs?
- To keep at things, injecting external motivation helps big time. How many times have I sought feedforward conversations with my managers, leaders, mentors, and well-wishers?
- If women are not consciously improving their business and financial acumen, it often comes as hindrance to their career growth. Have I consciously networked enough to understand my current strengths, weakness and what I need to improve for the future?
Planning the Way Forward
It has become necessary and important for women to move into leadership roles and flourish. When women flourish as leaders and nurture possibilities for their ecosystems, organizations can certainly improve or even double their business results.
For more women to thrive as leaders, the basics need to be fixed. Some of the simple suggestions outlined in this article addressed the basics that will help woman plan the career path to leadership.
Helping women cope better by being deliberate, intentional, and thoughtful in the way they address their challenges becomes a guiding factor for more women to arrive in leadership.
Every woman deserves to be the WoWomen Leader and transform the world around them positively!
We can also talk about more coping strategies and keep the list growing, but the intention here is to raise the awareness of women professionals to become intentional about their strengths, purpose, and passion, and have deliberate strategies to win more in their lives. Understanding the various levers for growth in both personal and professional lives is important.
As a woman professional, if you have not taken the time to reflect on some of the questions highlighted in this article, I would like to request you to pause and give yourself the permission to develop the practice of active reflection, thoughtful deliberation, and skillful action to achieve your goals and your potential.
Welcome – You have arrived at Leadership! Yes, you showcased tenacity and drive coupled with thoughtful reflection and action. All the very best!