Could this be the million dollar question? Or does it sound rhetorical? Has it not been asked and answered many times over? Given the trend of an increasing number of female leaders leaving their jobs, according to the LeanIn and McKinsey “Women in the Workplace” report, several articles published since, and a few current news stories, it would seem that whatever it is, they’re not getting it.
According to the research, there are the 3 main reasons for female leaders leaving. These will come as no surprise, they sound like a broken record in fact, and I don’t mean this disapprovingly, but with a fair degree of irritation that despite the efforts:
1. Women still face more hurdles than men and have less opportunity for advancement and progress; and
2. we are told, “women leaders are overworked and under-appreciated”.
Last but not least, women want more flexibility and a culture committed to wellbeing and DEI but most of the work that needs to go into developing this culture falls disproportionately on them.
So back to the question, could we be asking, what else are female leaders looking for?
Women stepping down from senior leadership roles leaves us with a dual opposing feeling of both respect and encouragement on the one hand, that they are making a choice, having a clear voice about what is not working, what is instigating their decision. But on the other hand, also sadness and frustration to think that we are losing some of the ground we have fought for so hard and so long.
However, there’s a certain buzz about female leaders leaving their positions that doesn’t feel like a step back or defeat. Younger generations are looking at these women role models and know they can be ambitious and get to the top but also clearly mark their boundaries if and when they need to. They realise that stepping down doesn’t mean stopping but rather, opening the door to stepping up somewhere else. They are hearing that sideways moves, prospects elsewhere or making your own opportunities joining forces with other female leaders could be as satisfying or more than climbing the ladder in the traditional sense.
This keeps us hopeful.
High potential leaders continue to develop their leadership and understand the power they have to make things better for themselves and others. They are no longer bound or guided by traditional views of success, fulfilment, or achievement. They are ambitious in their own way and are redefining what they want, what they’re looking for, in a very singular manner. Because female leaders are not one entity, it’s a group of individual leaders with multiple and diverse perspectives, needs and desires.
So let’s celebrate women in all of our diversity and ensure that we regularly get off the treadmill of life to check in on what we want and what’s working for us. Our program – The Leadership Connection – gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that!