(Excerpt from Mary’s New Book: Seizing Success: A Woman’s Guide to Transformational Leadership)
Recent research demonstrates that women in business who seek out peer support groups are happier and more successful than those who do not. Being among supportive peers who understand your pressures and challenges reduces your stress. As one of our members in the Key Women’s Leadership Forum put it, “It’s like being with your best girlfriends, but they understand what you do!”
What’s the power of these groups? Women CEOs and C-Suite executives have some unique challenges. Here are some of the frustrations that women we work with in leadership roles have expressed:
- “You begin to question your own abilities when the men at work don’t support you.”
- “I’m not sure people would see me as a leader if they knew the real me.”
- “Do I really deserve this?”
- “How can I balance everything with work and family?”
- “I don’t seem to get the same level of respect that men in my role do.”
- “I feel like I have to prove myself every time. A man can walk in and it’s assumed that he’s qualified by virtue of just holding the position.”
Women and human beings in general, feel less upset about challenges and perceived obstacles when they know others share those concerns and experiences. One of the underlying principles of group therapy is that the participants realize others struggle with the same issues and challenges. Their experiences are more common than they thought. The universality of experiences somehow makes them more acceptable instead of being ignored or hidden. Talking with supportive peers helps women in leadership realize that they are not alone and don’t have to be perfect to succeed at work or in life. This makes all the difference.
Better Options for Peer Support in Your Life
In facilitating CEO roundtables, I watch members develop a professional intimacy and deep trust in one another. I see leaders do courageous things because of the support and smart observations shared by their roundtable members. In order to achieve these results, you need a certain kind of group. There are three key ingredients to a successful and meaningful executive forum experience:
- Right Focus: The group is purposeful—they learn to work “on” their businesses or careers, not just “in” them
- Right People: The group comprises a diverse mix of leaders who want to be their personal and professional best and are willing to share their insights with others
- Right Execution: The group serves as an accountability system that ensures implementation, and a seasoned facilitator supports the group in deeper exploration of relevant issues and future directions
By creating a focused process to address problems and opportunities, the group can go deeper faster. Using the power of peers to its greatest advantage, you create a confidential environment where trust can build. Group members often start out as strangers who aren’t part of the same industry or social circle—and that’s actually a plus. Whether a peer group is made up of CEOs, executive women, or people in other leadership positions, it is a platform for distancing yourself from those who may want to direct the outcome, such as your spouse, business partner, other employees or board members. It also affords you the opportunity to see things in a new light, including yourself.
Our Peer Groups
Seizing Success: A Woman’s Guide to Transformational Leadership
My new book, Seizing Success: A Woman’s Guide to Transformational Leadership charts a map for you to improve, enhance, refine, and further develop your leadership capabilities. It will help you hone your strategic career planning and personal goal-setting. The skill areas or competencies outlined in this book come from the needs and opportunities most frequently brought up by women in leadership roles – through women’s forums that I’ve started and facilitated, through the executive coaching and leadership development work done over the years and through the research out there on what women in leadership can benefit from the most. Each chapter is designed to provide a clear understanding of a core competency that will strengthen and enhance your leadership capabilities and help you achieve your highest wishes for yourself and ultimately, those you lead.