To advance to leadership positions in the workplace requires many more personal characteristics and abilities than just academic performance. Other factors such as sponsorship and access to opportunities are also critical.
Success in the workplace requires personal traits that are not emphasized at school, including the ability to establish credibility quickly in key meetings with senior people, manage other people and processes, navigate an organization effectively, and much more. Some of these traits women have been socialized to be strong in and some less so, and often stereotypes can get in the way of women being effective leaders.
Although there are many more role models for women now, what is lacking is strong sponsors (both men and women); that continues to be a focus for me. In addition to sponsorship, another focus for all organizations needs to be effective talent management with both employers and employees looking to ensure that developmental and growth needs are identified and then remedied.
Although I have cultivated (and continue to cultivate) sponsors throughout my career, what I have always strived to do is play a proactive leadership role in the development of my own career. Much progress has been made in the past 30 years towards women becoming leaders in their chosen fields, but what continues to be paramount is for both men and women leaders to sponsor and mentor all talented women to achieve their full potential as well as to guide rising women leaders through the choices that they will need to make in their careers.