Okay, let's get the binder jokes out of the way. Go. Now that we have that out of the way, what are you doing to develop women with strong leadership skills? Most likely you don't have a plan. Not only do most leaders not have a plan for development of women they don't pay them as much as men according to a recent report by Center for American Progress. Yes, you can argue that truth and time go hand in hand, eventually women will be making what they should but can we be called leaders if we accept that? (I'm speaking to my male counterparts here)
I've noticed that men can turn a leadership issue into a gener issue. Not every women is a gifted leader but the same is true for men, not every man is a gifted leader. I think we can be more intentional with developing women in leadership, here are a few thoughts on how:
1. "I have to" vs "I get to" - Yes, there are a lot of initiatives to give women equal opportunity. However, this mindset can hold someone back from embracing a great opportunity. I am, by nature, one who doesn't like to stand in a straight line. So if I'm told to do something I am more likely to rebel against it than embrace it. I think this is the stance for a lot of male leaders when it comes to the development of women in leadership. Push back against the "I have to" and embrace the view point of "I get to".
2. Give ownership - I see a lot of male leaders who will give a female team member a role but never actually give them the authority or opportunity to lead. Get out of the way! Most often this is a result of unclear expectations. Be clear. Use key result areas and keep the conversation around those results going.
3. Don't negotiate - Pay for talent. Period. I don't even see this as a gender issue but a blessing issue. Do you want to bless those you lead? Do you want to keep talent? Than find the resources necessary to bless them instead of making them negotiate their value.
4. Encourage networking - Because of our current reality most women in leadership feel like they're on an island. Connect them to other women. Give them the resources necessary to create a conversation around development and support. Create a blog within your organization or larger industry and have women leaders contribute on different topics so that every women can participate in the conversation (Here is a great example that just kicked off).
5. Stop with the lip service - You can't say you are for women in leadership and then look to your right and to the left and not see a woman. If the title is not available make sure you are providing the opportunity for input from women. Find the best and give them a seat at the table. Ask their opinion. Seek their wisdom. Your team or organization will be better for it.
After coaching lots of teams I've learned that individual strength leads to team strength. If you are not developing women in leadership than your team is not as strong as it could be. Your own leadership could be strengthened. Don't miss an incredible opportunity to develop the leadership gifts in the women on your team or in your organization.