Do Women need their own Leadership Programs?

YEGS RAMIAH
YEGS RAMIAH

Founder and CEO
LEADERBORD

If you asked me 20 years ago whether women needed their own leadership programs, I would probably have responded with a resounding NO! Back then my belief in equality led me to think that we needed to show up to be treated equally. However, as my career progressed, my perspective evolved. I started to appreciate the importance of lifelong learning and therefore the value of leadership programs but also their substantial shortcomings, especially for women. Let me take you on a journey that led me to believe that women indeed require leadership programs tailored specifically for them.

 One vivid memory stands out from this journey. I attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, an intensive eight-week program away from home. During that time, I experienced the heartache of not speaking with my eight-year-old son even once. Each time I reached out, he refused to speak to me, leaving me perplexed and I must admit, upset. It was only on my return that he said, “that’s because I miss you more when I hear your voice.” It was his way to cope with my absence. This personal experience underscores a critical point: women who hesitate to enroll in such programs are not lacking in ambition; their reluctance stems from the very real and challenging choices they must make between personal and professional priorities.

 But what are the alternates to extended periods away from home or late-night networking events? I have not been a fan of online training programs; they often feel outdated, impersonal and disconnected from the needs and aspirations of dynamic women. If it doesn’t work for me, I can’t expect it to work for other women. Access to information is no longer a challenge so another digital library doesn’t cut it either. Women need programs designed specifically for their modern lifestyles, that make learning accessible, relatable and doable.

 Whilst leadership has evolved over time from command/control to charismatic and now to embracing authenticity, organizations still use male-centric criteria to evaluate women, as a result many qualified women will not receive the sponsorship they deserve. Accessibility for women to the right programs is critical for their advancement, one that values their unique strengths and celebrates their authenticity in leadership.

Understanding how to respond differently to familiar issues can make all the difference. The bias and discrimination that women face in the workplace are not always overt, but they can have serious consequences if left unaddressed. Many of us wish we knew then what we know now, it may have led to different choices. For instance, women often receive different feedback than men. Women are often praised for doing a great job and being good communicators, while men receive specific feedback that guides their development and career progression.

 The workplace experience will not change unless we are prepared for bold action, the inner strength to show up differently and deliver incredible results that speak for itself. One without the other doesn’t move the dial. Belonging to a community where others have navigated similar challenges and successes can be reassuring.

I’m excited about the Leaderbord platform, which goes beyond merely acknowledging the realities of women’s lives; it serves as a catalyst for a more inclusive future of leadership. The App is purposefully crafted to grant women exclusive access to tailored leadership programs. By doing so, it opens up new avenues for women to intentionally and strategically shape their careers in leadership, creating boundless opportunities for professional growth and equity in the workplace.

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