What holds women back from stepping into leadership?

There are certainly many women out there who have passion and expertise, but for all of this talent, women are not stepping up into leadership roles at the same rate as men. So how is it that mindset holds us back?

What is mindset really made up of?

How do we form our ideas? Is mindset individual or cultural? Many would rightly argue that culture has a huge part to play in mindset. For the history of mankind, most cultures have seen us exist within a patriarchal society, where men have made most of the decisions. It is only within the last 100 years that women have started to become legally more equal with men, for example, with gaining the ability to vote, being able to work after marriage, and being allowed to take on leadership positions within organisations. However, to this day, there still exists religions and cultures which expressly forbid women from making certain decisions, let alone take on leadership roles.

Our focus at Healing Souls Business Coaching is about helping women step up into their own power and into leadership positions. Despite the fact we as a western society have made significant progress towards equal rights, there still remains cultural and mindset barriers in business which prevent women from leaning in and stepping up to higher positions, and creating a 50/50 gender ratio in leadership roles.

For example, we still evaluate people based on stereotypes. Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead” (2013) uses the example of the Heidi/Howard case study:

Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive, and communal. Because we characterize men and women in opposition to each other, professional achievement and all the traits associated with it get placed in the male column. By focusing on her career and taking a calculated approach to amassing power, Heidi violated our stereotypical expectations of women. Yet by behaving in the exact same manner, Howard lived up to the stereotypical expectations of men. The end result? Liked him, disliked her. (p. 40)

Stepping Outside of the Box?

So how can we as women circumnavigate these reactions to compliance or non-compliance with stereotype? How can we step into leadership roles without having negative mindsets from both men and women? We need to re-educate ourselves and others, and let go of stereotypes. We need to step outside of the box, think outside the square, just be who we want to be and accept others who follow the same mantra.

So how are you going to change your behaviour today? What is stopping you from making those changes? What blocks are holding you back?

Their ambition is legendary

Stepping Into Leadership

Reference:
Sandberg, Sheryl (2013) “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”. Random House.

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