Women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions is no secret, and the research confirms that reality in many companies. Since women have historically faced barriers when they aspire to lead, the leadership culture, the type of leader and the aspirant’s ambition must converge for her career advancement to prioritized. The leader’s disposition, knowledge of their organization culture, and a personal operational philosophy of serving those who they lead are key factors. The leader must also be willing to use their power to support and sponsor the high-potential female candidate’s growth and development. These are the characteristics of a Servant Leader. Servant leaders must also show foresight, which is an orientation to the future that they respond to by taking action to resolve organizational problems -while they can. There are three questions in the book Servant Leadership, that Greenleaf uses as a measure for recognizing servant leaders: Do those served grow as persons? Do they while being served become healthier, wiser, freer more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants? And what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Readers have opportunity to find the answers to each of these questions in the chapters of this book.
Leadership development of high-potential women candidates can take on several forms and one of these is mentoring. Given that about 95% of leaders at the executive level are male, A Script for Aspiring Women Leaders: Five Keys to Success illustrates a rare and excellent example of cross-gender mentoring in leadership development. The level of the executive leader in the organization is critical throughout the process because of the knowledge of the organization culture and the power of their sponsorship to communicate a message that influences organization-wide perception of the aspiring leader thus facilitating alignment between aspirant and organizational goals. This works best in formal mentor-protégé pairings but has value for informal mentoring relationships as well. The authors make the connection and application between women’s natural leadership skills honed and refined through motherhood to contextualize concepts. Since leadership is not value neutral, ‘inside out leading’ or leading based on the leader’s values and principles supports authenticity from the start. The leader-mentor serves as manager of the evolutionary process, guiding the aspirant ‘protégé through development of their personal mission, vision, and goals and the intersection with organizational goals and the needed alignment for success. The process management role shifts to co-management with the protégé who ultimately becomes responsible for the process.
The book is useful in companies or can be adapted to coaching experiences for developing high-potential female talent. Methods that shape the ‘protégé’s leader identity development include the development of self-awareness with assessments that engage the input from those who work with the ‘protégé, using targeted development questions, providing a rationale for responses and facilitating the thought-process through to ownership and action. Identifying and participating in support groups is vital in that they build her leadership capital, extending beyond the strong ties of family to expanded networks that accelerate and sustain ongoing development even in difficult times. Not all mentoring relationships are successful for a variety of reasons, as you might imagine. But the self-actualized outcomes can translate into internal and external opportunities. This book simultaneously integrates retrospective and futuristic approaches of the mentoring experience serving as a Coach’s Blueprint for leadership development, complete with a step by step guide and process scripts for developing and empowering aspiring leaders.
Greenleaf, R.K. Servant Leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness.
Dr. Carmela Nanton, CEO of Carmel Connections Inc., is a leadership strategist, executive coach, consultant, award-winning author, and educator. Diversity equity and inclusion, women’s leadership. carmelconnections.com, email@example.com, @DrCarmelaNanton LI-FB/DrCarmelaNanton