Posted on March 22, 2017 @ 9:00am

When preparing to lead any exercise with participants, I always test it on myself. This helps me to improve the design, to understand my own thinking and to be a better facilitator.

An early exercise in our Unleashing Women!™ seven-month curriculum is called, "Build Your Best Business Leader". The exercise is simple. In small groups, participants are asked to share stories of their favorite leaders and then list the qualities that they admire in those leaders. The whole purpose is to help participants identify qualities they hold in high regard so that they can consider including them in their own personal leadership model.

When I asked myself, who are my favorite business leaders, I had a shocking realization. It takes something to admit this out loud:

I only envisioned men!

(I'm curious - what did you envision?)

I was shocked.

I didn't first think of men and then think of women. I only envisioned men. If MY first instinct is to only see great business leaders as being men, what does that mean? If I'm biased towards men (me - a woman who went to an all-women's college, who is arguably an accomplished leader and who has a passion for women's leadership), I'm certain others are holding similar biases -- consciously or unconsciously. This gave me some pause, some personal insight as to why, in 2017, when women comprise about half of the workforce, only a mere 4% of CEO's on the Fortune 500 list are women.

The data on the benefits of having a diverse workforce at higher levels of the organization is undeniable (click HERE to see some of that research). Having an inclusive workforce leads to stronger bottom-line results. But how do we get there? How do we overcome our individual biases and get more women represented at higher levels in organizations? One way is to provide women with substantive opportunities. Another is to provide leadership development that is specifically tailored to women. We must first see and acknowledge our own biases and train ourselves to create a new default pattern. (I don't believe that only men can be great business leaders, so I remain vigilant to not let an old pattern of thought, no matter how subtle, influence me today.)

The time has never been more right for investing in women leaders. If you are wondering how to do that, check out our Unleashing Women!™ curriculum HERE. I'm a huge proponent of this program because it fosters real change and makes a real difference. To begin with, the program happens over time so the women have the opportunity to practice, grow and develop. It happens in a group - so the women tap into the group's collective confidence to bolster their actions and attitudes. It has staying power - when people go through a shared experience, the relationships that are forged last over-time. It becomes easier to pick up the phone to ask for help or offer assistance. The program has immediate payoffs because the women are asked to take on a Capstone project which will impact her company or her community - resulting in real-time benefits.

The faculty leading this program include women with experience as Executives at Fortune 100 companies and who have a deep understanding of women's issues. One of our key faculty members worked at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business where she conducted extensive research on women's leadership under the advisement of Wharton's Center for Leadership and Change.

Unleashing Women!™ is a transformational leadership program that provides great payoffs.

Click HERE to see an overall description of the program.

Click HERE to review some Frequently Asked Questions about the program.

Contact me at Tara@DillonMarcus.com  if the time is right to invest in your women leaders.    

                                     "She believed she could, so she did!"




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