It is lonely at the top. That’s a fact borne out in my work with senior leaders. The higher up the organization you go, the fewer peers you have. The people giving you advice have their own agendas, not nefarious…
Recently I’ve been advising a number of organizations on how to retain and support female talent. I have yet to come across a large organization with a truly robust female talent pipeline or decent gender representation at the highest level. I will often advise them on setting up or strengthening a women’s professional network or I’ll coach a senior woman transitioning to a new role. Sometimes they ask me to establish a mentoring program or peer coaching groups.
In doing this work, one thing has become very clear to me. There is still tremendous need for women to get together and support each other. And women are still more reluctant than men to help each other professionally, even when they would be glad to help on a personal matter. Case in point, a woman recently told me she had recused herself from a panel interview because her friend was the candidate to be interviewed. She thought this was a conflict. It’s not (!) and no man would dream of doing that.
On the other hand, I meet more and more senior women coming towards the end of their careers who are becoming more active in supporting other women. They describe a desire to give back, to make change while they can, to take advantage of their seniority. For many there is a sense of urgency and frustration of what is yet to be accomplished. Let’s not wait until we are almost out the door. Try to help another woman get ahead today.