The Gender Gap in Leadership Continues


Both men and women score similarly in their ability to drive business, but fewer women are rising beyond lower management.

Assessment candidates women vs men
Assessment candidates women vs men

This graphic shows the disparity between women and men when being assessed for developmental opportunities in leadership from a company that specializes in leader development, DDI International. At the operational level of leaders-think first line managers--the gap is already 50%--men make up 3 out of 4 individuals being sent for development.  By the time leaders are considered CEO material--only 1 out of 10 selected for assessment are women.  I was fortunate in my career to have a boss/mentor that invested in my development and sent me to DDI to participate in their assessment program-which was a incredibly valuable experience.  I was tested, 360 reviewed, evaluated in live simulations, and provided with a wealth of feedback summarizing my performance in each area along with suggestions for playing to my strengths and developing my areas of improvement.  One of the most valuable aspects of this engagement was receiving the opportunity to work with an executive coach.  My executive coach was unbiased, objective, and helped me create a new frame of reference to ignite my capabilities and create a clear action plan for growth.  My coach was unconditionally constructive while holding me accountable to creating and executing on my plan for success. While working with my coach my leadership improved significantly and matured and my performance raised in unison.

The study authors encourage organizations to consider emphasizing all types of diversity by promoting support groups, flexible schedules, sponsoring networking opportunities, and mentoring.  DDI’s researchers found that almost two-thirds of women have never had a formal mentor. "Even one good mentor means they are more likely to climb the organizational ladder," they say.

You are probably asking yourself, "What can I do? I am a woman.  I want to progress my career, and I see myself rising up the corporate ladder.  What is the best way for me to approach this challenge and ensure my success?"

As I see it, your action steps are the following:

Have a Vision

  • Who do you want to be when you grow up?  It's much better for you to have your own vision and develop goals towards achievement vs. following the vision others may or may not have for you.
  • Create a plan to execute on your vision and enlist help.  Create your own "board of directors" who provide you with advice, guidance, honest feedback, and potential connections to others whom you can learn from.  Revise your plan as needed.

Solicit Feedback

  • Pursue feedback from your fans and your critics.  Uncover the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.  Ask people who are senior to you, your peers, and your direct reports.
  • Honest, unbiased feedback is a gift.  Take it to heart and do something with the feedback that rings true and will help you improve your effectiveness.

Get a Mentor

  • Does your company have a mentoring program?  Ask to become a mentee.
  • Look for a mentor on your own--whom do you admire within the business community?  Who do you have good chemistry with?  Who currently holds a position you would like to aspire to? Talk to these people about being mentored by them.

Hire an Executive Coach

  • Want to grow faster? Invest in yourself by hiring an executive coach.  You will rapidly accelerate your plan when you have the right coach.
  •  A coach's sole motivation is to help you improve and grow. They will help you create goal clarity, drive accountability, focus on the things to fix and pay attention to, gain acumen, and achieve results must faster than if you were going it alone.

Take the time now to invest in yourself and your future.  Don't let today's reality of the gender gap shape your future.  Efficacy on your part IS required and YES, you CAN do it. Build your plan and support team and execute. You might be surprised how many others will be cheering for you as you take these important steps to grow your leadership and enable you to achieve your rightful place in the ranks of senior leadership.

Let me know how I can help at