More female leaders for 2013!

A couple of articles sparked my thinking recently. Would love to hear your thoughts too.

First, in Forbes 12/24/12 Jenna Goudreau has an article entitled “A Golden Age For Working Women.” It’s an optimistic view of women’s future job prospects given today’s service economy. Our communication and collaboration skills are cited as critical to the future “care economy,” as futurist and author Ian Pearson calls it.

Let me start by saying that any careers allowing women opportunities to be sustain themselves financially I am all for. You go ladies!  Not every woman should—nor even wants to—rise into senior ranks of companies and eventually run them.  What does concern me is that leaning on the traditional aptitudes of collaboration and communication can box us into not pushing beyond these things. Yes, we need women as teachers, nurses, caregivers, but we also need women as secretaries of state and CEO’s. Global, financial and deep management skills are needed for these jobs.

Which brings me to the Lucy Marcus’ article, “Developing Women Leaders: Five Essentials.”  This is an excellent summary of the preparatory skills needed to advance into leadership, and it does a fine job of supporting my tagline, ‘Preparing Women Leaders’. Allow me to add a couple of ideas:

International: Yes! Living abroad and learning other cultures challenges and broadens us. They also teach us humility. As I ran International for HGTV and Food Network, it was quite humbling to see what developing nations were doing to quickly push toward excellence. When I toured Buenos Aires, it was humbling to see its exquisite beauty and Argentinian pride. When I toured Jerusalem, it was humbling to see all of that history and reverential awe in one small, contained area. International travel humbles me, and with my business sensibility I can assure you this is critical knowledge to be an effective leader, especially of a large, global corporation.

I also liked Lucy’s thoughts around mentoring, and how she defined the phases of career requiring different forms of it.  I’d add that in our final phase of career—where we are at the top of our game—we owe it to the next generation of women  to mentor them and to be advocates for them in our companies.  These are our business leaders of tomorrow.  Providing them with skills, perspective and our wisdom will enable them to break through the old barriers, and increase our numbers at the top.

More female leaders would be my fondest wish for 2013!
Susan signature