• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Level Up Your Leadership: Strategies for women to thrive in business


Did you know that only 21 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women*? You know what? Don’t worry about that for now. Let’s bring this closer to home. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally with approximately 26 percent of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity.

Yet, despite this high level of entrepreneurial activity, African women have been shown to be vulnerable to extreme poverty as they face greater burdens of unpaid work, have fewer assets and productive resources than men, earn less than men, are more likely to work in sectors that have lower average incomes, and are also likely to be engaged in part-time work due to the burden of unpaid work.

Read also: Accion MfB empowers women with leadership skills

Globally, business is booming, and innovation is moving at the speed of light. But when it comes to women leading the charge, there’s work to be done.

Why do we find ourselves stuck in this endless loop? Despite dedicating an entire month to empowering women and filling every 8th of March with webinars, seminars and panel discussions, progress seems to creep along at a snail’s pace.

The facts speak to the benefits of inclusive leadership: companies with strong female leadership have been shown to outperform their competitors. Still, the glass ceilings are morphing into broken rungs, with women moving up the ladder or leaving the executive workspace with fewer women to replace them. The bias is evolving into subtler forms, with overt prejudice being replaced by smooth talk and minimal action.Top of Form

But if there’s one thing women know how to do, it’s how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and keep going without waiting for external validation. That’s why I reserve March each year for empowering women, not just for doling out empty platitudes that fade faster than the puff of activity associated with the month.

There are concrete strategies to tackle workplace challenges and do better in business. So, are you ready to work smarter and seize your power? Let’s do this.

1. Speak up! Own your voice and your achievements: We often underestimate our contributions. Reject imposter syndrome and speak up! Clearly articulate your ideas in meetings, performance reviews and networking opportunities. Do your homework and, when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to ask for that raise, that promotion or any opportunity for growth withing the organisation. Your voice deserves to be heard!

2. Build your tribe: No woman is an island, especially in the business world. Build a strong network of colleagues, mentors and industry contacts. Attend relevant conferences, networking events, and participate in mentorship programs. Connect with like-minded people on LinkedIn. These connections can be invaluable sources of support, information and potential opportunities.

3. Learn from experienced leaders: Having a mentor who “gets it” can be a game-changer. Look for someone in a leadership position who you admire and whose career path you’d like to emulate. A great mentor can provide guidance and offer invaluable insights on navigating workplace challenges. Just be sure to only approach potential mentors with a clear understanding of what you hope to gain from the relationship and how you can contribute.

4. Be your own hype woman! Promote yourself (strategically): This is the “doing” part of self-advocacy. Gone are the days of waiting for recognition to magically appear. Document your accomplishments and quantify your contributions. Don’t be afraid to hype yourself – just do it with professionalism and a sprinkle of humility.

5. Invest in YOU: Continuous learning and skill development are the keys to staying ahead in today’s world. Take advantage of professional development opportunities like workshops, conferences or online courses to refine your skills and expand your knowledge base. Stay informed about industry trends, advancements and best practices – social media can be an invaluable tool for this. Invest in YOU. Become THAT woman. Not only will this make you a more valuable asset, it also demonstrates your dedication and initiative to everyone around you.

Read also: Expert calls for collaboration within African education ecosystem to foster leadership excellence

6. Build your brand: In today’s digital world, your online presence can be a powerful tool. Craft a professional LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills and experience. Engage in industry discussions on social media platforms relevant to your field. By showcasing your expertise online, you position yourself as a thought leader and increase your visibility within your industry. You never know who’s looking!

7. Learn self-care and boundaries: Recognise the importance of work-life balance and prioritise self-care to maintain balance and well-being. Get used to establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life without the accompanying guilt. Set aside dedicated time for relaxation, hobbies and family. Don’t forget: rest is productive! Where possible, negotiate for flexible work arrangements. It won’t be possible in every instance, but take what you can, where you can.

Women in leadership isn’t merely a matter of achieving equality—it’s about harnessing diverse perspectives to drive innovation and deliver results. So, are you ready to rewrite YOUR narrative? Then get started today.

Pick one thing. Send that email requesting that overdue promotion. Schedule that coffee chat with that inspiring leader in your network. Maybe there’s a mentorship program you’ve been hesitant about joining – sign up today. Log on to LinkedIn and craft a powerful post showcasing your expertise.

Whatever the action, take it. Because change starts with you. You really are about this success life, and you can be part of a transformative process that truly breaks down barriers, shatters glass ceilings, and creates a world where every voice is heard, and every opportunity is within reach.

Rachel Onamusi is the CEO of VN Sync, a full-service media marketing agency specializing in digital media strategy, has a proven track record of empowering brands through innovative campaigns and strategic partnerships. Based in the UK, Ms. Onamusi is a sought-after speaker, writer, and frequent media contributor.