Senior female leaders are on the rise. As things stand Hillary Clinton looks set to be the first women in the White House and Helen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister has thrown her hat into the ring to replace Ban Ki Moon as Director General of the United Nations.
Does this mean things will get any easier for senior female executives in business? Why should we put more females in charge? Are there any lessons such senior female executives can learn from their political sisters?
Well no, probably not to the first question – promotion is not going to get any easier but yes, definitely to the second.
The first lesson is resilience. Mrs Clinton is a senior female leader par excellence when it comes to resilience. Just look at how she came through the Monica crisis, head held high with Bill taking pretty much all the flak for the douche bag (as the Americans would say) he was seen to be (certainly by most women). Then there’s endurance. Senior female leaders don’t seem to let age get them down and they certainly don’t see it as a disadvantage. Madeleine Albright was well into her sixties when she became Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State and it was only the fact that she was Czech born that precluded her from running for President.
Senior female executives should adopt the same strategy. Age should not wither them. For most women, day to day family cares start to fall away once you reach 50 leaving more time for a spurt to the finish line of high executive office. Also, just as with men, you are much wiser in your fifties. Senior female executives should put that wisdom to work.
There’s an old male saying that if women had been in charge of things there would have been no wars but we’d all be living in grass roofed mud huts (only men can innovate and invent apparently). Increasingly though people are pondering whether the banking crisis would have been avoided had more women been in top financial positions. So, Senior Female Executives of the world, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your apron strings!
Khalid Aziz Khalid is Chairman and founder of The Aziz Corporation, the UK’s leading executive communication consultancy.