One of the most powerful gestures a successful businesswoman can make is to foster another woman's career.
Considering things are better than they once were, the workplace can still be an intimidating place that doesn't always welcome diversity or change. As fellow women who have worked through the challenges and grown more robust and more knowledgeable because of them, seasoned businesswomen have a unique perspective on what it takes (and what it means) to be successful in business.
According to an article published by The Center for American Progress, women make up only 14.6% of executive officers in the U.S. This figure increases or decreases depending on what industry you look at, but the percentage never rises above 16%. It shows that women in leadership get undervalued generally, and the climb to the top can be a lonely journey.
Mentoring is one factor that can make a considerable difference in a female employee's aspirations to lead a team of her own one day. Women leaders are in a position to foster traits that are unique to women and make them especially suited for leadership roles, helping them develop or encourage the following characteristics:
- Purposeful and meaningful
- Traditions and family
Women are good at understanding the thought process, work ethics, and goals of other women. They can use these factors to their advantage in the future. The opposite happens too often – women end up working against each other, fearing that the only way to succeed is to win out over one another. This behavior is especially prevalent in women manager/direct-report relationships, where managers work to keep their employees in their places for fear they may succeed and take their jobs. But this is the mindset that needs to change.
The road to success lies in mentoring your employees rather than working against them. One businesswoman mentoring another fosters collaboration and growth and fierce loyalty, and a sense of solidarity. You can achieve far more with a team of individuals who see you as a leader to admire and learn from rather than an unapproachable boss to be feared.
The benefits of mentoring get stronger and meaningful when a successful person uses them to guide another woman to succeed in her career. Not only will they pass on skills and knowledge related to a particular field, but skills and knowledge related to what it means to be a woman working in that field and what it takes to rise to the top.
A woman mentor will pass on valuable lessons, like the importance of sharing your opinion, standing behind a cause, owning your work, and not shying away from a challenge. They can advise a mentee on how to show leadership skills by taking the initiative, being confident in front of a group or spearheading a project, and working with coworkers—both men and women—instead of against them. These are all traits of strong leaders, and learning to embrace them can mean the difference between advancing in a career and stagnating in place.
If you are a woman who has been successful in your career, consider taking on a female colleague as a mentee. Your knowledge and guidance will point them in the direction of success and equip them with the tools and confidence they'll need to follow their dreams of becoming a leader.
If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet where true equality is achieved, and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.