It seems to me that too few women move from middle management positions to senior levels in corporate America, and many who do successfully enter the executive ranks do not stay. These realities suggest my advice for women who aspire to corporate leadership.
I think women need to adopt the styles, skills and savvy of corporate America – developing an understanding of problem issues, and taking action to make adjustments in their approach to their work and careers. This requires awareness of the people and politics around them: learning what qualities are valued, who is making the decisions, and the most effective way to get things accomplished. Only after you understand your corporate culture can you determine where you fit in.
From my personal experience, the key areas most problematic for senior level women include: communicating effectively; building networking relationships; promoting their own accomplishments; being politically savvy; getting the most out of mentoring; maintaining a work/life balance; and developing impact and presence. One way to improve in these areas is through community outreach. For instance, I serve on the boards of our region’s public TV/radio and other organizations; I am also active with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and various charities.
When you develop an appreciation of your working environment, and carefully assess your strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to overcome hurdles and be more successful. As women in management we have the opportunity to bring to the top of the house distinctive expertise, perspectives, and more collaborative and inclusive management styles that can make a real change in the corporate cultural landscape.