Women in leadership: glass ceiling or glass mirror ?

Jul 20 2004 by Charles Helliwell Print This Article

At work, as in the home, women consistently allow themselves to be driven by belief structures ingrained into their psyche from the ages of five to eight years old. I have yet to meet, or indeed work, with anyone whose behaviour patterns conform to anything else.

Consequently and almost inevitably therefore, women reach a point in their lives where the pinnacle of their beliefs coincide with the pinnacle of their drivers, causing a massive clash of uncertainty and self-doubt.

This is not to say that their male counterparts do not experience similar emotions. They do. However for the most part, their natural bravado and alpha male behavioural traits enable them to con their way through.

So why is it that women allow themselves to become so strung out by this and could this be a reason for the self doubt which restricts their unquestioned and natural leadership qualities in the workplace ?

If the rules say that women have to compete on the same stage as the stereotypical alpha male in order to be seen to be successful, then change the rules. Just because it isn't done, doesn't mean that it can't be.

Success or failure as the criteria to determine an individual's worth is so often the product of delivery. Those who can usually do; whilst those who can't inevitably won't. Conventional business metrics so often require proof of delivery as proof of success, and consequently, women are always asked to prove that they are good enough to earn the right to be; wherever be might be.

This is where so many of their childhood belief structures choose to kick-in. Having reached a point of relative achievement, women encourage themselves to challenge the very fabric of those beliefs which took them there in the first place. They are inclined to reference some point in their childhood where they were encouraged to believe that they must always show how much better they are than anyone else in order to prove their worth for the future.

And yet the most skilled leadership is so often a dichotomy of personality traits to which women have spent their whole lives training for, namely endurance and sensitivity. Women have nothing to prove to their male counterparts on either front and still they allow themselves to get drawn back to the conventions of proof.

Proving that women are good enough has always been the ceiling through which women glimpse the medusa of success - only to be turned to stone through self-doubt. Changing that glass ceiling into a mirror of reflection allows them not only to continue to believe in their own leadership qualities but also reflect the medusan image of fear in on itself and shatter once and for all any illusions harboured from their childhood that they may never be good enough to succeed.

Charles Helliwell is the founder of Business Personality Audits and specialises in the behaviour and relationships of Women in Business

About The Author

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.