Redefining Leadership in the Corporate Landscape
By: Vidyullatha Prakash, Director of Marketing, Intelliswift Software
Vidyullatha Prakash is a strategic and data-driven marketing leader with an overall experience of 15+ years with proven expertise in B2B Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership. She holds a PGDM in Marketing from IMT Ghaziabad, Masters’s degree in English and Bachelor's degree in Computer Science Engineering. She is a Forrester Certified B2B Marketing Pro, Rising CMO of the Year Awardee at the Women Influencer Summit for Outstanding Women in Tech and Harvard Leadership Course Graduate.
In conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine, Vidyullatha shares her views on the key skills and qualities necessary for women to succeed in leadership positions.
What are the unique challenges faced by women in leadership roles, and how do they overcome them?
Women in leadership roles often face unique challenges that can hinder their career advancement like gender bias and stereotypes, work-life balance, lack of representation in leadership positions, unequal pay, lack of access to male dominated professional networks and most importantly, balancing leadership responsibilities with personal and family commitments which can be tough for women due to societal expectations and traditional gender roles.Certain leadership traits are associated with masculinity, which can lead to biases against women who exhibit different leadership styles.
To overcome these challenges, women in leadership roles can employ strategies like mentorship and sponsorship where they can actively seek out mentors and sponsors who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy within the organization.Developing assertiveness and confidencein expressing ideas and opinions to challenge gender bias and stereotypes is important. Networking and building relationships, encouraging pay equity,supporting work-life integration, leadership training and development, and advocating for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at all levels within the organizationare other ways using which women can break barriers, overcome biases, and thrive in leadership roles, contributing to a more diverse and inclusive business landscape.
What are some of the key skills and qualities necessary for women to succeed in leadership positions?
To succeed in leadership positions, women must cultivate a range of essential skills and qualities that can empower them to excel in their roles. Exceptional verbal and written communication skills are crucial for leaders to convey their vision, provide clear directions, and foster collaboration among team members.Adaptability and resilience coupled with problem solving skills are critical to succeed in today’s competitive corporate environment. While strategic thinking and timely decision-making abilities are crucial, emotional intelligence and empathy are traits of a great leader. Negotiation and conflict resolution are also highly essential to navigate through the various challenges presented within larger teams.Continuous learningis also very important for individual progress as well as driving the team to learn. Confidence is another hallmark of inspirational leaders. Developing and honing these skills and qualities can empower women in leadership positions to thrive, drive positive change, and make a significant impact within their organizations and beyond. Effective leaders build cohesive teams, ensuring they are motivated, engaged, and aligned with the organization's mission.
What steps have to be taken to promote gender diversity and inclusion in leadership positions?
Promoting gender diversity and inclusion in leadership positions requires a concerted effort and commitment. Setting measurable diversity goals and targets for increasing the representation of women in leadership positions and ensuring that these goals are aligned with the organization's values and long-term objectives is paramount. Eliminating bias in hiring and promotion, like gender bias and unconscious bias, is important and diverse interview panels can prove to be a solutionhere. Supportive policies and practices like flexible working hours, parental leave, and remote work options will help retain and attract more women in leadership roles.Conducting regular pay equity audits to ensure that women are being compensated fairly compared to their male counterparts for the same roles and responsibilities is very crucial.
Leadership development programs along with mentorship and sponsorship can also be considered. Conducting training sessions to raise awareness about unconscious bias and its impact on decision-making processes is also very helpful. Fostering an inclusive culture that values diversity, encourages open communication, and celebrates differences is absolutely essential and if the top leadership champions DEI, it is even more effective.
By taking these steps, organizations can create an environment where women have equal opportunities to thrive in leadership positions. It is essential to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion that benefits the organization by leveraging the diverse perspectives and talents of all employees.
How do business leaders stay updated on industry trends and advancements to keep their leadership approach fresh and relevant?
Here are a few ways that business leaders can stay updated on industry trends and advancements:
- Join relevant professional associations and networks to connect with peers, share knowledge, and stay updated on industry news.
- Seek guidance from executive coaches or mentors to gain perspective and support for leadership development.
- Attend industry-specific conferences, seminars, and trade shows to derive insights into the latest developments, trends, and best practices within the field.
- Participate in webinars and online workshops conducted by industry experts and thought leaders to learn about cutting-edge practices and strategies.
- Enrol in executive education courses, workshops, or certifications to gain specialized knowledge and skills.
- Follow industry influencers and thought leaders on social media platforms as well as listen to podcasts to receive timely updates and engage in discussions.
- Author thought leadership articles, blog posts, or whitepapers on industry-related topics to share your insights and expertise with others.
- Join or form peer groups or mastermind circles to exchange ideas, solve challenges, and share experiences with other business leaders.
- Listen to customer feedback and conduct market research to understand evolving customer needs and preferences.
By proactively pursuing these strategies, business leaders can stay informed about industry trends, and continuously adapt their leadership approach to remain relevant in today's dynamic business landscape.
What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs who are looking to break barriers and make a mark in their respective industries?
First and foremost, believe in yourself. It is very important to have confidence in your abilities and trust that you have what it takes to succeed. Self-belief is crucial for overcoming obstacles and taking bold steps forward.
Building a business around something you deeply care about will give you the drive, perseverance and resilience needed to overcome challenges. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks, and failure is a natural part of the journey. Embrace both and view failures as learning opportunities to improve and grow. Challenge gender norms and stereotypes in your industry.
Continuously seek knowledge and educate yourself about your industry, market trends, and business practices. Engage in networking events, collaborate with other entrepreneurs, and form partnerships to expand your reach and opportunities.
Running a business can be demanding, but it is crucial to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Continuously invest in your personal and professional growth.Consider giving back to the community and industry or supporting social causes. Ultimately, embrace your authenticity and let it shine through your business.