Although the #MeToo campaign started as a result of sexual harassment, there are tangible signs that it is evolving into something that really challenges outdated models of leadership. So is it now finally helping to create and embrace a culture that works for women, not just men?
International leadership coach Eunice Aquilina recently put forward her findings via online news forum Coaching at Work. “We’re currently seeing a renewed commitment in organisations for a greater presence of women in senior leadership positions,” she said.
According to Coaching at Work there also appears to be an increase in forward-thinking organisations investing in coaching and mentoring to help develop future women leaders.
Recent research published by social enterprise Women Ahead in a report called ‘Turning the Gender Diversity Dial’ shows how mentoring is key to moving gender diversity forward within UK businesses.
This is as a result of the core values and ethos that coaching and mentoring is fundamentally based on. A sound coaching and mentoring framework supports the creation of empathic, collaborative, empowered and trusted leaders which creates inclusive cultures.
This moves away from the typical leadership frameworks that focus predominately on extroversion, decisive action and competiveness, all of which can actually turn female leaders off.
I was fortunate enough to have a great experience within my first senior role which, upon reflection, I put down to these key areas:
The organisation itself had an inclusive culture which led to individuals developing their careers/roles as a result of the outcomes they achieved, no matter what ethnicity or gender they were. In fact when I gained my first Board position there were two other females alongside me on a board of 7.
Challenging my limitations
Right from the outset of my career I always worked with a coach or mentor which really supported me in challenging my limitations and mindset e.g. Really, I can be a board director at 33 and female? Yes we have all done this. I have also focused on working through limitations, whether that’s my own or within the organisation. Every time I felt a limitation I would step back and think about what needs to change or happen here for me to feel more confident of comfortable in this situation. I work on the basis that there is always a solution to find.
Finally, I believe that feminine values have an integral part to play within UK workplaces. I was always driven to influence a board, organisation or fellow colleagues through my own set of values based on the instinct to be kind and nurture, inclusivity and collaboration and empathy and compassion – all values that historically have not been seen as leadership qualities.
However, we are at a turning point, and now more than ever we need to ensure that the right support and development are provided with women leaders that embrace all of these values and qualities.
Women should now start understanding that these values are actually strengths. Their development now needs to be around ensuring they have the skills and resilience to integrate these qualities into the workplace.
It is not about supporting women to develop skills that fit into what can now be seen as a dysfunctional and outdated system that really hasn’t worked.