Women often face more difficulties on the path to a successful career than men: It seems they may be passed over in selection procedures for certain appointments because people fear they might get pregnant, they hit the infamous glass ceiling on their way up or they have to prove their strengths in male-dominated environments. If they say what they think, they are often criticized for being self-opinionated or even bitchy; if they keep themselves to themselves this will often be criticized as a sign of weakness. However, there are women who do make it to the top and who show bravery on the path to success. They simply take a different road than the one traveled by their male counterparts. These women turn what normally passes for weakness into strengths: It may look like she’s holding back, but in fact, she may be holding a hand full of aces. Emotionality can be, in actual fact, high empathetic capability. But how exactly do these women do it – how do they manage to take the road straight to success without a detour? Is there such a thing as a blueprint of “female” leadership? And what can we learn from these remarkable women for our own professional (and private) journey?
Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston und Geoffrey Lewis – all consultants at McKinsey –conducted research on these questions for five years. They asked well over one hundred women – and a few men, too – all over the world, what drives successful women in leadership positions and which strengths help them to achieve their goals. They published the findings of their research in a book entitled The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life: How Remarkable Women Lead.
The Breakthough: Centered Leadership
“Centered Leadership” is the term coined by the authors for their groundbreaking model. What it means: Draw on sources of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual strengths which spur you on and inspire others, too.
Although the model works particularly well for women, men, too, can benefit from this wisdom, because it’s not just about realizing women’s potential, but also about transforming organizations by unleashing powerful universal energies. The critical five dimensions are:
Meaning – Know your own strengths and utilize them for inspiring purposes and to achieve goals that mean something to you personally.
Framing – Adopt the habit of looking at things in a positive light; this will broaden your horizon, and will give you the power to stride into the future, even when everything seems to be going wrong.
Connecting – Find people who help you to grow, who you can forge strong relationships with and who give you a feeling of belonging.
Engaging – Find your inner voice, gain self-confidence through challenges and collaborate with others.
Energizing – Be aware of where your energy comes from, where it flows and how you can recharge your batteries – and take the time out you need to regenerate your energies.
More than just a leadership model
A survey carried out by the authors reveals: Almost 100 per cent of people who utilize at last four of these five strengths said that they were successful leaders and that they were content with both their professional and personal lives. Of those who utilized fewer than four of these strengths only around 20 per cent maintained they were successful leaders and a mere five per cent of this group claimed to be happy in their private lives. The good thing, however, is, that you don’t have to be born necessarily with these strengths. Everyone can work on their strong attributes and thus find greater self-confidence, success and contentment.
Since I read the book about a year ago, I have been recommending it to everyone I know: to my own mentor and people who I support as a mentor myself. In my opinion, it is one of the best books there is on the subject of leadership. The authors give a hopeful outlook on the future and offer some unique ideas on the theme of success. They understand how to make changes tangible that result from the interplay of the five dimensions – an extremely interesting and inspiring book that can enrich you not only in your professional life in the various different phases of your career, but also in your private life, too. Go get it.