TIME TO STAND UP, BE COUNTED
Women are missing out on jobs for fear of failure, Lauren Ahwan reports
CONFIDENCE and the ability to “fake it until you make it” are often the only skills women need to develop to become successful leaders. The Leadership Institute chief executive Dana Lightbody says many women already have what it takes to hold leadership positions but do not put themselves forward for fear of failure.
“There’s a lot of women not sticking their hands up for jobs that they’re not 100 per cent certain they can do,” she says.
“But men will have a go, even if they have only got 60 per cent (of the skills prerequisites).
“If women are waiting for that ‘100 per cent job’ then they’re missing out on 80 per cent of the jobs that they could be great at.”
For the first time, the proportion of women on ASX 200 boards reached 30 per cent this year but 40 ASX 200 companies still have only one woman director, while six companies have none.
Lightbody says successful women leaders harness their natural abilities to be inclusive, encouraging, good communicators and authentic.
“Women used to think they had to act like men and be ballsy but now there’s a shift into not being somebody that you’re not and not being a woman in a man’s suit,” she says.
Ella Bache chief executive Pippa Hallas – who is one of the speakers presenting at The Leadership Institute’s live streamed event The Empowered Woman 2020 later this year – says women often let self-doubt limit their leadership ambitions.
She encourages women to support each other and champion their success in business.
“Self-confidence is a big issue. But you’ve got to fake it until you make it,” she says.
“Find role models and mentors and networks to plug into that will encourage you and make the (leadership) journey so much better.”
Nikki Saunders, 30, is channel marketing manager at Vocus Communications but hopes to move into a “people leadership” role in the future.
She says surrounding herself with people who recognise and believe in her work abilities has been crucial to her success so far, admitting she often overlooks her own leadership skills.
“All women tend to doubt their capabilities,” she says.
“A male will see a (job) advertisement and say, ‘I can do most of that, I’ll give it a shot’ but I will look at it and say, ‘That’s not for me because they want these skills that I don’t have’.”