Support for Women at the Top
“My dad left such big shoes to fill—and everyone is watching,” Kathleen said in one of our first conversations. She went on, “And the trouble is, I want to run the company differently than he did…you know, really make it my own.” Kathleen’s dilemma is common for women in leadership roles. I could see her point: as the third-generation CEO of a metals company, Kathleen feels a pull to balance both her father’s wishes, and at the same time, fulfill her own dreams for her company.
I want to run the company differently than he did…you know, really make it my own.
So where does someone like Kathleen turn to talk through her dilemmas? How will she figure out how to bring herself and her ideas to the company while managing the needs and wants of the major shareholder and former leader—her father? Certainly a Family Business Advisor, a business coach, and a personal network can be very useful sounding boards, advice-givers and mentors—very useful, but perhaps insufficient…
As more and more women are in CEO positions, we’ve noticed a trend. Women at the top are interested in input and feedback from other women in similar roles. Others with whom they can commiserate, bounce ideas off, engage in meaningful conversations, and ultimately shape their own point of view. I liken this to the fitness chain Curves for women. Curves’ business model capitalizes on the peer woman-to-woman connection, using a practical and effective approach to fitness, in a supportive center environment. This environment brings together women who are working on similar goals. It builds a cohort of women who can provide encouragement and challenge each another, together achieving individual results for each woman in the group. What might be possible for Kathleen if she had a Curves-like group for business-women?
Women at the top are interested in input and feedback from other women in similar roles.
As FBAs, we have a unique opportunity to share distinctive practices with our clients….to help them get more of what they want in their lives. Groups of business women are out in our communities—each with different goals and personalities, advantages and disadvantages. Help your interested women clients find a group that fits their style. Or help them form one with just two or three other women they know. If they want anonymity, help them find a group in a neighboring community or in a national or international organization. Mostly, help them find a fit for what they want to get out of it, with whom they will be spending time…and then help them assimilate what they are learning into their company.
Melissa hosts Cirque du Sophia for Women at the Top, along with Lisë Stewart, founder and director of the Galliard Family Business Advisor Institute. To learn more about Cirque du Sophia and view upcoming forums, visit cirquedusophia.com.