Women Gearing Up for Leadership Roles Face a Shortage of Support

2020 was a huge setback for women transitioning to leadership roles and according to DDI’s Leadership Transitions Report 2021, it’s having a lasting impact on working women and their long-term careers. Unfortunately, potential women leaders received less support than their male counterparts and this could lead to a “lost generation” of leaders. As part of DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast series, the report delved into leaders and the issues they face as they entered leadership roles at work. 

Women didn’t get clear expectations when entering leadership roles, while men were given clearer instructions

Collating data from 15,000 leaders and 2,100 human resource professionals from 1,740 organizations across 24 industries globally, it was revealed that men are 22% more likely to be partnered with a formal mentor than women. As a result, women experience higher levels of stress because they weren’t given clear expectations for success as they took on higher roles and more responsibilities. Men, on the other hand, were given clearer instructions. Also, women had outdated development plans for their careers. Stephanie Neal, director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research, said, “Whether someone becomes a first-time manager or is stepping into a C-suite role, the transitional period has a huge impact on their leadership brand, their team’s performance, and long-term effectiveness. We found that so often, stress and feelings of disengagement stem from a difficult transition into their job. It’s often due to a lack of direction and support, which results in it taking longer for leaders to get up to speed. And because these are leaders, that has a compound effect on their teams.”

Are companies ensuring that women in leadership get the support they need and deserve?

This is proof enough that men are better set up for leadership success than women and this gap only increased when the pandemic hit the entire world. In 2020, almost every single company in the world had to change, particularly in terms of operations, and hence, many organizations had to change their leadership developments plans. During such a stressful time for businesses, new women leaders were left without the support they needed to make it. The report found that ‘1 in 10 leaders who transitioned just prior or during the pandemic said they were more likely to leave their organization, despite being promoted.’ From a lack of leadership training, continuous feedback, and good mentors, many managers felt that weren’t equipped well to handle the pressures of work during the pandemic. Organizations must ensure that all leaders, especially women leaders are given all the tools they require to succeed. Of course, transitioning to a leadership role dies have its teething problems, but these should be a stepping stone to success, not failure.

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