What Does it Take for a Woman to Reach The C-Suite?
What do you need to do to get to the C-Suite?
It’s a tough world out there, especially for women. Face the reality that the corporate world in the traditional sense is a battleground of talents vying for recognition and positions of authority. While corporations are growing and market competition has never been this cutthroat, more and more women ease their way into the highest part of management level or the so-called C-Suite, to the utter amazement (and sometimes disbelief) of the male corporate population.
For a woman, it may take more than just intelligence and business acumen to work her way up the ladder. Experts believe that the package has to fulfill very strict quality-control specifications to ensure a seat in the C-level group. Five important attributes have been named to determine readiness to assume this much-coveted stature in an organization.
Acquire as much line management experience as possible
To get to the top, it is very important to have a substantial experience in handling a line management function. If you know the ins and outs of a certain operation and have managed people in that function, then you’re a likely candidate to become a chief.
This means that you have already been exposed to overseeing the processes and used to dealing with the various issues that are present in the department. Cross functional experience is definitely a huge plus factor in any management selection.
Work on your tech background
You need to equip yourself technically through formal and informal education. A solid background in information technology, engineering, or math, gives you that edge over someone who doesn’t. The modern-day woman is not afraid to face the “man’s world” and learn such disciplines which are all key knowledge in the operations of any enterprise. Having a technical background solidifies your credentials and reputation and discourages any threat of possible discrimination, especially in a male-dominated environment.
Be unafraid to take risks
People in high positions are expected to be risk-takers, because the decision-making function is inherent in their level. Self-confidence is essential, but only if it comes from a well-informed expert who knows her work and does her homework. Taking calculated risks is necessary for any operation to thrive, because time is money.
While it is normal to be afraid of failing and losing face, a leader who refuses to commit to a decision or avoids being accountable is a clear sign of incompetence. Highly successful people have had their share of failures or being victims of risks that have gone bad, but they remain successful because they have learned from their mistakes and have never stopped taking risks.
Be highly visible
To get to the top, you have to let people become aware of what you can do and what you’ve accomplished. It’s not bragging, but taking pride in your work and contributions and graciously accepting any praise that you’re given. Embrace new challenges thrown your way and whenever you can (provided you can do it), volunteer to take on that project that no one else wants. And if you are able to help the company soar, then your colleagues and boss will think of you as a winner in their book, and not some show-off.
Get a sponsor
If you want to reach the top level, you need to find a key person of authority to back you up in your career. But it’s not a simple case of approaching someone for sponsorship. Rather, it involves initiating a collaboration with someone in authority. You have to bring something to the table, and be willing to work with and for your potential sponsor. In turn, he would provide the backing and support that you need in your upward mobility. Some people may also call it mentoring, particularly when you look up to the person for advice and direction in the way you perform your duties.
The way up may not be breezy for any woman, but the journey would surely provide her with a wealth of opportunities to demonstrate her readiness and competencies. The five attributes that you have seen have been identified as the basic to-do-list of aspiring woman-chiefs. While the traits may also apply to men who want to get ahead, it is the women who need all the morale-boosting power that they could get.
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