Over the next few months, I will be sharing the insights of three of our WOMEN Unlimited Program Managers. They are on the front lines in helping high potential women become strategic, top-level leaders and in working with their managers to help ensure sustainable results.
Our Program Managers will highlight the challenges and opportunities our participants bring to the table and the transformation that takes place for the women, their managers and their teams as a result of their program participation. For early-career women, our program is IMpower and for mid-career women, it’s LEAD.
Our first Program Manager, Peggy Jackson, offers an especially valuable perspective. She runs both programs, and is continually working with women at various career levels.
It is really a fantastic experience for me to work with women at different inflection points in their careers. I see them grow and develop. I see them shed old behaviors and lean into transformational changes. I see them create an impact much bigger than one person as they share their learnings with their teams, their peers, their managers and their organizations as a whole.
Day 1: Similarities and differences between early-career and mid-career women
The high potential women who have been selected by their organizations to participate in either IMpower or LEAD have a lot in common. At the start of their respective programs, they often lack confidence in their own talents as leaders. Frequently, they don’t see the strengths their managers see. They are reluctant to “show up” and be visible in a way that will advance their careers. Additionally, both early-career and mid-career women often enter their programs wanting to develop more impactful communication skills.
A few major differences…
The less-seasoned IMpower participants are leading for the first time, often struggling with team management and with pushing away from doing it all themselves. They are needing to understand that their career growth and development requires more than just doing a good job. They are having to learn how to influence (without having authority) across organizational lines.
Mid-career LEAD women are already strong, talented tactical leaders. But often they lack the broader, high level view. Their comfort zone can tend toward black and white solutions, but they are in a situation where success is not defined discretely. They have to create order and opportunity from ambiguity. To succeed, they will need to think more broadly and beyond their own team.
Transformation in Action
In both programs, I am always thrilled to see how early and how often the “Aha” moments happen, with career-boosting changes coming fast and furiously.
For example with IMpower, by the end of Session 1 of this six-session program, there is a greater willingness to question and shed non-productive behaviors. By the time they graduate, participants are confident in their own talents and much more comfortable speaking to both large and small groups. They understand the importance of building strong internal networks; and are doing it. They have greater business acumen and a clearer picture of the organization as whole and their potential role in it.
Participants in our 12-session LEAD program are equally quick to adapt a learning mindset for career advancement. They become more decisive. Their hesitancy to engage at all levels of the organization dissipates. By the end of the program, they are thinking more strategically and have developed an executive presence which makes them more credible to top decision makers. They are “showing up” strong and leveraging their talents organization-wide.
Why It Works
There are many reasons our 23+ year approach to the growth and development of high potential women works. But here are what I see as the “Big 3”
- Our programs are all about experiential learning. Formal sessions are the beginning, not the end of the learning. Participants are required to complete “action assignments” bringing what they’ve learned back to their organizations and practicing it with their teams, with their managers and with leaders in the organization.
- Our programs offer a nowhere-else approach to mentoring. Our three-pronged approach to mentoring ensures that participates learn and grow as the real world of business demands. They build mentoring relationships with their peers in the program, supporting and advising each other. They are also assigned external top executive mentors, both male and female, who provide honest, no-holds-barred feedback. Additionally participants are encouraged to engage their own managers as mentors
- Our programs “amplify the impact” across the organization. Because participants are selected by their organizations; because managers are involved before, during and after the programs; because graduates are ready, willing and able to step up to leadership roles; because we are often part of an integrated approach to gender parity…the impact of our programs is amplified throughout the organization with results that are pervasive and sustainable.
If you’d like to learn more about why and how our programs work, please shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org