How Women Can Position Themselves To Be CEO

Women can Position Themselves to be CEOAs a coach, I often find myself telling women executives this phrase “ a man would never do that”.  Some areas where this comes into play include:

  • Competition – Women often are more collaborative than competitive
  • Vying for resources – Women are faster to make personal sacrifices for the good of the whole and their male peers end up with more resources, better talent, and more turf
  • Work/Life Balance – Women are more likely to choose a more balanced lifestyle and therefore lose some consideration in the process
  • Pay – women are often not as aggressive when it comes to securing top pay

It’s not that I believe men are better leaders and that women should act like men to be at the top, because at the senior level almost all of the leaders both men and women are extremely talented. Its just that once a leader gets to the Vice President level, all remaining moves are not decided by the boss alone. Whether a leader stays in the job, advances, gets bumps back or gets moved out is decided by committee. Sometimes the committee is formal. Sometimes its informal, but it’s always a committee. So until there are as many women senior executives as there are men, women have to know how to compete for the top job in a way that both genders can respect. I coach top leaders to think of their peers as their committee for the next job “Treat your peers in a way that when the CEO job opens up, that if they can’t vote for themselves, they will vote for you.”

It’s going to change. It’s inevitable (due to demographics) that there will be a significant number of women CEOs and senior leaders and when that happens, leadership in general will have more characteristics that women bring to the table. I once had an executive call a group of women leaders The Pink Brigade. I think that’s a good analogy for what is happening with women leaders. They are marching their way to the top.

In the mean time, women can position themselves by:

  • Being better at doing the job than their male counterparts
  • Bringing 100% of their A-game every day
  • Balancing strength and femininity
  • Thinking critically
  • Being able to create a compelling vision and engage others around it
  • Getting results
  • Developing and acquiring top talent