Is it fair to say that one of the main reasons that our societies today are at once so palpably unsustainable and socially  unjust, is that we have fallen into the trap of traditional “old boys club” masculine behaviour and values? Is this true?  Well, I certainly do think so.  So, that means one of the highest priority tasks of the sustainability movement is to bring in many more women into leadership positions.  However, women today face several challenges that tend diminish their natural leadership abilities in order climb the corporate ladder, so to speak.

What Does Leadership Mean To You?

My sister put together some thoughts for her Woman in IT Leadership group. She provides a unique perspective on 5 specific challenges that women may face while trying to advance their career.

To me, leadership equals inspiration, delegation, collaboration, influence, respect, knowledge, and continual learning, the ability to:

  • Inspire my team and those around me to be enthusiastic and engaged in moving toward a common goal
  • Delegate to and trust my team
  • Collaborate and share knowledge so that my team and those around me have opportunities for growth – to fill my shoes
  • Influence the influencers
  • Respect others and earn their respect
  • Know when to lead and when to get out of the way
  • Make continual learning part of my leadership journey

What is different about women in leadership?  Or leadership in a technology field? Or both?

Women often have a taller mountain to climb to advance their careers in the technology industry as there are few women role models they can strive to emulate. Even as natural leaders, many women often do not know that they are leaders or they don’t know how to climb the rungs of the tech ladder to leadership positions. Those that have often mark the sacrifices they have made to get there, both professional and personal, and you often hear that they had to “fit” into a male IT world to advance.

One of the great qualities of women leaders is that they often tend to cultivate relationships through collaboration and team-building, with less emphasis on hierarchy and status.

What are specific challenges that women in technology leadership face?

1) The “too-nice” challenge — you get taken advantage of by supervisors and your team because you always apologize even when it’s not your fault and you let rules be broken continually

2) The “door always closed” challenge — you’re so deep in your work that you don’t take a moment to check how those around you are doing only to realize that they’ve all left

3) The “claws are out” challenge – you show strength of character and authority and instead of earning respect for your decisiveness and directness, you get the tiger cat call

4) The “burn-out” challenge — you say yes to everything and everyone, and before you know it you don’t have time to eat or sleep

5) The “gone fishing” challenge — you are away for an extended period and come back to work only to find out that an opportunity has passed or the re-learning curve takes a long time to get back into the swing of things

What are specific skills or personal development to arm yourself for the future in technology leadership?

Negotiation skills and conflict resolution are critical skills for career advancement, and having the ability to manage remote and multi-functional teams using technology as a tool for communication is becoming evermore prevalent and essential.