The rate of progress isn’t good enough – women in leadership lunchtime reflections with Nicola Horlick

Reflecting on some of the events I have helped organise this year to discuss the subject of resilience, it is clear to me that employers are just not keeping up with the rapid changes taking place in society today. With the lack of effective resilience practices being a common feature in manager and leadership development, a huge number of talented people are being lost to stress related illnesses or moving on to other businesses that are more in tune with what employees need, to achieve a better work-life balance. This is certainly true for many women in leadership roles.

Last week I hosted our quarterly ‘Women in Leadership – The Resilience Debate’ lunch, which was attended by a range of professionals looking for tips on resilience, particularly in male dominated environments, such as the financial sector.  Despite the desire to achieve great things in their leadership roles, the stress of coping with various challenges can make this hard to accomplish. Some of the challenges identified by the delegates included, showing assertiveness, never feeling able to say no, apologising for a life outside of work, the lack of support from the top tier and the lack of flexibility in the performance management processes.

Joined by guest speaker, Nicola Horlick, CEO of Bramdean, Chairman Rockpool, Georgina’s restaurants and Derby Street Films and author of Can you have it all? Nicola acknowledges that society can penaliss dominant women, but that the need to be more pushy is a necessity. Women aren’t natural risk-takers so won’t always be motivated to take the next step, but by appointing a senior mentor, coach and sponsor who has your back and acknowledges your achievements, prospects to achieve your goals and work towards the next level become increasingly more accessible.  Nicola states, “A leader is only as good as the people below them”.

But with bias against women being particularly evident in the financial sector, how many women will reach the top level? Nicola shared that it’s the intellectual satisfaction that is the driver for her – building things she is proud of.  She says ‘Some are motivated by money or necessity, so if you have no choice but to work, you might as well do what you enjoy doing and set your sights high.’ Research has shown that women make better traders and investment managers, but other industries are often able to lure the female talent pipeline away with more attractive working conditions and less stress inducing environments.

Furnished with resilience skills that can quickly, simply and continuously be applied, personal resilience methods provide the opportunity to provide us with a sense of wellbeing and genuinely raise energy levels which in turn will raise performance.

I am not suggesting you go storming into your bosses office tomorrow, thumping the desk, demanding more respect, but your new assertive-self could start by exploring the opportunities to build your network, navigate any office politics to work in your favour and above all, be authentic and start believing in yourself.  Why shouldn’t women be at the top of their game?

If any of the above resonates with you; you may be a woman in a leadership position or a manager who engages with this debate and wants to discuss this topic further, then please get in touch. I will be hosting more Resilience Debate lunches in 2016 and welcome anyone interested in the diversity and inclusion agenda to come and take part.