You’ve been working with a great group of young women for several years, and you can clearly see they’ve grown in their positions. But one thing some of them seem to lack is the ambition to climb to the next level.
“They just don’t seem to WANT it enough,” you find yourself saying.
Letting your employees stall in their career climb can result in them settling for less. Plus, you could be sending a signal that it’s OK to underperform.
Women leaders we spoke with say it can be hard to light fires under employees who don’t seem willing to take that next step.
Paving New Leadership Paths
So how can female leaders help the next generation pave their road to leadership success? Here are three rules of advice:
1. Start by committing yourself. Help your department/company establish a process that develops young talent, or if it already has a process, work to see that it’s encouraged and actually used (i.e., mentee programs, periodic continual learning sessions). If it’s dormant, consider doing what you can to jumpstart it.
Involving employees in higher-level positions is key, because it encourages everyone in the organization to place the same level of importance on growing talent, says Alaina Love, CEO and president of Purpose Linked Consulting.
“It’s essential that those of us in leadership positions take responsibility for shepherding the next generation down a path where they can achieve greatness,” Love told Business Insider.
2. Consider developing a “Leadership Manifesto.” A set plan for cultivating talented leaders should tell employees what’s expected of existing leaders—and what they can do to reach the top, Love says.
Your company may have a broad, HR-based guide drafted for steps to follow for promotions in leadership. But developing a leadership grooming plan that’s tailored to your department’s needs might be more practical. Such a plan gives your team an idea of how they can work toward specific leadership positions, and also helps you and other mentors know what to focus on.
3. Don’t let them lose confidence. You might be sure your mentee is ready to take on a leadership role. Problem is, she might not be so confident. Lynne Doughtie, chairman and CEO of KPMG in the U.S., told the World Economic Forum that data from a recent study of women and leadership advancement showed confidence does wane over time. (Doughtie became the group’s first female boss in 2015 and now oversees more than 27,000 people.)
“One of the findings was the difference from when women start their careers to when they reach … manager level,” Doughtie says. “When starting out, women tend to be very confident and aspire to leadership role[s]. But over time, they become less confident and don’t think they can attain those roles.
“As women leaders, we have to give them confidence and tell them … we’re here to help,” she adds. “I tell women who are aspiring to senior [levels] to be deliberate about seeking mentors and sponsors. Women leaders need to also … give them the experience to help achieve those career aspirations.”
Bottom line: As a successful leader, you can help young, talented employees learn the skills and maintain the confidence needed to climb the next step to leadership.