With an inherent belief in the self, and cultivated skills in their areas of interest, women can achieve success and the coveted work-life balance.
In this century, women face diverse challenges. These may be challenges in the sociological or professional environment, and in areas that may not have existed or mattered in the generations before. Our aspirations and expectations from life are also very different. For too long, women have been egged on to act, behave and think like men at workplace to blend in and be accepted. But the woman of today is fast evolving and doesn’t think that adjusting will enable her to reach her full potential. This is bound to keep evolving as the millennial bring in their new ideology into the workplace.
The leadership path
Women on the leadership path will face obstacles in form of subordinates, bosses, accusations of being too aggressive, too mellow, or they be maybe faced with lack of opportunities. This is further emphasised by the study of 132 companies published by Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit, LeanIn.org, and consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which says that women are decades away from gender equality at work -- even though more women are trying to climb the corporate ladder.
So whether, it’s a leadership track, a lucrative role, international posting or starting up on your own - is it possible to build these lives of opportunity and success with the existing mindsets? Today, women aspire to be leaders in the workplace and equal partners in their home, while they achieve in other socially enriching aspects as well. They want to realise their full potential, not be oppressed by age-old beliefs, and live a life of dignity like everyone else. An increasing number of women want to be able to balance work and family life and to achieve positions of leadership. To achieve this, some of the common traits needed would be vision, courage, integrity, humility as well as strategic planning, focus, co-operation and execution - accepted broadly as key leadership attributes.
So, how we develop these attributes? And leveraging these, how do we build the lives we want to lead? How do we create opportunities and make the best of the ones we have? Aspirations such as these take focussed work and time to achieve. Would it not require a sustained effort to change traditional mindsets through relevant choices?
The starting point towards this overall success is an extremely important choice that each of us has to make. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, “Have I picked the correct role or career?” The unsurpassed creativity that is unleashed as a result of a passion in a particular area of interest will definitely drive the ambition. This choice therefore forms the bedrock of all the efforts that will go into realising the dream of absolute success in every field.
Belief in the self
The inherent belief in the self and the ensuing confidence will help create and catalyse our influence on what we do. If we spend our time just doing things that are meant to be done as a result of some preconceived system we will most certainly not be able to create any influence. We would be following a norm without believing in it, trying very hard to make it work.
I visualise a socio- economic environment where we no longer have the pre-determined and hyphenated gender-based approach – an environment that is created through a mindset of achieving results with a difference where a leader is known for her capabilities. Many would contend that this is not possible. I do believe that this may take some time and effort and depends entirely on the choices made and the approach taken.
Mastering the art of listening
Integrity and authenticity are the key ingredients that will help manifest this vision. The willingness to speak and the manner in which we express ourselves is what make all the difference. To be heard and be understood we need to listen first and it is imperative that we master the art of listening to understand and not just respond. Through my experience of interacting with women, I have come to understand that we need to overcome the challenge of certain behaviour patterns that are etched into the subconscious. The tendency to move from being passive to an aggressive approach needs to be worked on.
With a passion to follow, accompanied by integrity and cultivated communication skills women can not only achieve success in all areas and unleash their leadership skills, but can also set the benchmark for excellence in their chosen field. This could be an entrepreneurial venture or a job in existing system- women can definitely make it work for them.
An empowered environment
Personally, I visualise a space where women are empowered to make their choices in the existing sociological and professional environment to create an all-new environment while advancing their careers as well. I wish to see a world in which women are free to make empowered decisions for themselves and their families. This cannot be achieved in isolation and it is not about putting down men in any way. Respect and trust for an individual that is not based on any conditioned belief system is a prerequisite for pleasant, goal-oriented workplace free of unnecessary acrimony. Gender bias in some areas is about perception and needs to be dealt with a fair amount of wisdom and assertiveness – not aggression.
The empowered choices that are made will set the stage and nurture an environment of synergy and satisfaction. More women leaders in the workplace will help address emerging issues and ensure to a certain extent that the needs and concerns of women are voiced and seen as a priority. This vision that so many women share can take shape only if each one of us makes the effort to break free from our own limiting beliefs, developing a vision and display a will to lead! Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
To manifest this vision, we need to live it every moment. So dream big, be creative and create the norms and be the change you want to see.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)