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Michelle Cronje – Women navigating their careers

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

With the advent of Women’s Day and having the privilege to listen to a plethora of powerful women’s inspirational messages, I thought it appropriate to deliberate on the importance of women navigating their careers and reaching the heights they aspire to.

Looking at women’s successes globally, Fortune magazine highlights some of the most powerful women in business such as Marilyn Hewson, Mary Barra and Sheryl Sandberg to name a few. Forbes further goes on to say last year was a ground-breaking year for women in business. Notably Sheryl Sandberg was named the No 1 most powerful businesswoman currently.

With only 5% of CEOs in the Top 40 JSE listed companies, how can women navigate the business world and aspire to leadership positions?

As an executive coach, having journeyed with aspiring leaders to leadership positions, key themes always arise, such as visibility, emotional intelligence, reinvention, etc.

To navigate questions and ideas that come up from the themes above, we work with the GENOS Emotional Intelligence Model. The tool covers six competencies: self-awareness, awareness of others, authenticity, emotional reasoning, self-management and inspiring performance.

The model can be briefly unpacked in the context of your career’s progression as follows:

1. SELF-AWARENESS: Women need to invest in understanding themselves better to master their own lives. One of the assessments used is the PDA (personal development analysis). Through a simple, precise, and scientifically validated methodology, the PDA describes and analyses the behavioural profile of individuals, identifying their talents, motivators, strengths, agility, self-control, self-confidence and job matching. Knowing this information about yourself gives you the opportunity to identify your strengths and play to them. Understanding the contribution you can bring to a role, and knowing your unique skill set, will set you apart.

2. AWARENESS OF OTHERS: Understanding the concept of awareness of others, gives you the ability to learn to adjust your style so that it fits well with others. Engaging with and accurately viewing situations from others’ perspectives gives you an advantage of anticipating responses from others which will set you up for success at that boardroom table.

3. AUTHENTICITY: Knowing your limiting beliefs e.g. “I’m not an expert” or “I don’t have time” will enable you to work at them and still be your authentic self. Sheryl Sandberg notes in her book “Lean In” that women have internal barriers and external barriers. By working on your internal barriers of limiting beliefs you can still come from a place of authenticity at the boardroom table.

4. EMOTIONAL REASONING: Through demonstrating this competency a woman can gain an expansive view of situations. Women tend to be great at relationship building but not for the reasons of being visible and for leverage. Women can still be their authentic selves if they use emotional reasoning to understand the context within which they work and to use relationship building as an opportunity for growth by leveraging such relationships. Strategic, focused networking will set women well on their career trajectories. The key is to ask for guidance and employ a mentor.

5. SELF-MANAGEMENT: Set a plan for your professional life and personal development. Be someone who strives for continuous learning. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions by putting your hand up for stretch assignments or difficult tasks. Remember you will grow your confidence and visibility through this effort. It is good to take risks (calculated).

6. INSPIRING PERFORMANCE: Women need to encourage women peers and subordinates to aspire to develop and grow. Sponsor and mentor women in your workplace. If it’s in your capability, help facilitate other women’s development and afford them the opportunity to advance their careers.

Should you be a decision maker in human resources or learning and development and are looking to develop or update your succession management model in terms of job matching and to identify competency gaps and implement the required development plans for your aspiring leaders, then reach out to us on the details below. Let us partner with you to allow your employees to grow and reach their potential.

Alternatively, if you are an established and/or emerging women leader who wants to embark on a journey of selfdiscovery and fast track your career and/or business growth, engage with me on the details below so you can gain clarity of intention and make correct choices congruent with your authentic self.



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