Studies show that organizations with more senior ranking women have a competitive edge. Recent research also indicates that women in business who seek out peer support groups are more successful and happier than those who do not. The presence of supportive peers that understand your pressures and challenges reduces your stress.
What’s the power of these groups and why haven’t they become part of best practices for supporting women in leadership? In my experience facilitating CEO round-tables, the professional intimacy that develops in the mostly male dominated groups is quite significant. One of the groups I ran met consistently for seven years – businesses grew, people grew as leaders and the participants were able to reach their dreams or get pretty close. Women CEOs and C-Suite executives can benefit in some similar ways and they also have some unique challenges. Here are some of the frustrations that women in leadership roles that I’ve worked with 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.”
What makes any human being less upset about challenges and perceived obstacles is knowing others share those concerns and experiences. When a woman in leadership realizes that she’s not alone, it can make all the difference. I used to believe that convening a separate women’s leadership peer group was not necessary and that mixed groups of CEOs or Key Leaders were adequate. I’ve changed my thinking. Introducing women with similar concerns and work challenges to each other offers tremendous value added to all concerned. That’s why we started the Key Women’s Leadership Forum, which brings together women in leadership roles so that you can focus on your whole self: mind, career, body and spirit!