Expert Advice on Fast-Tracking Women in Leadership Roles

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Female execs; Photo Credit: Rawpixel/Unsplash

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D., founded MSR Leadership Consultants India in 2007 to provide training programs to educational institutions and corporations, several of which include training women to better prepare for leadership roles.

He has published 45 books, one of which is title “21 Success Sutras for CEOs,” but he’s in the process of writing a book tentatively titled, “Strategies to Build Women Leaders Globally: Think Managers, Think Men; Think Leaders, Think Women.” In this Shakedown, Professor Rao discusses strategies for women to get into leadership roles and how corporations can better advocate for gender equality in the workplace.

What are the challenges holding women leaders back?

There are several factors that are holding women leaders back within  global organizations—stereotypes, structural obstacles, lifestyle issues, institutional mindsets and individual mindsets, to name a few.

Why do you think mentoring is so key to professional development, especially for females?

Mentoring is essential for both men and women to excel professionally and fast-track their careers. However, it is more essential for women as a few number of women leaders are currently participating in leadership roles and responsibilities. Having mentors help them be equipped with the necessary skills, abilities and knowledge to take on the corporate challenges effectively and excel as successful leaders globally.

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Professor Rao

As an author and mentor, what is your No. 1 piece of advice for female leaders starting out?

Women must come out of their comfort zones and shed their inhibitions to take up leadership roles and responsibilities. They must express their ambitions early in their careers and assert themselves to reach senior level positions. They must recognize their strengths and leverage their skills, abilities and knowledge to reach senior level positions. Additionally, women must support women to create a gender equal world. 

In what ways do you advocate for gender equality globally, and how do you think major corporations can benefit from doing so?

Closing the gender gap is the key to corporate excellence and effectiveness. Currently, the pipeline for women is leaking with the reports of women CEOs stepping down globally. It must be checked to ensure there is a seamless supply of women CEOs to lead global organizations. The present corporate world is designed by men, which is laying the ladder for women leaders to reach C-level positions slowly. Therefore, we must allow women to design their ladder in the corporate world to enable them to fast-track their careers.

Here are a few steps to ensure more women reach C-level positions:

  • Create opportunities for women at all levels.
  • Inspire them to overcome their inhibitions.
  • Encourage them to participate actively in cross-functional roles and responsibilities.
  • Adopt job rotation.
  • Assign cross-training roles and responsibilities to enable them to learn all trades and become masters of their domains.
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