Women in leadership: ‘Women are stronger together’

08 March 2021
LeadershipEquality, Diversity and InclusionResilience
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A women leading a team

Leadership coach Carla Miller says despite women making excellent leaders, they are not equally represented at leadership level within the fundraising sector and beyond. But she says she has seen how women collaborate, champion and support each other in healthy working environments.

Women are as good at leading as men. In fact in 2019 a study run by a leadership consultancy Zenger/Folkman show that women were rated better leaders by those who worked for them compared to men. Their 2020 study showed that women leaders outscored men on 13 of the 19 competencies they looked at.

And yet women are not equally represented at leadership level in our sector or beyond. There are so many reasons for this, from the messages society has around how girls should behave and be perceived, to the fact that leaders choose their successors and have a bias towards people like themselves. 

Ask any thought leader about the attributes that leaders need right now and they’ll talk about empathy, compassion, the ability to manage through uncertainty, caring about the wellbeing of employees and having humility as a leader. And yet for years women have been judged as not being “leadership material” for having empathy towards their team members, for asking questions rather than always thinking they have the right answer and for being open to the idea that others in the room may have input as valuable as theirs.

It is time for a change. We need more women in leadership roles in the fundraising sector because…

1.   They are good at it.

2.    Leaders need to be representative of the people they lead in order for organisations to be healthy. This is a point that extends far beyond gender and gender should always be looked at alongside other biases in the workplace. 

3.    It’s the only way we are going to create workplaces where women can thrive.

So how do we do that? These are some of the initiatives used by organisations who have seen an increase in the average salary they pay women in their organisation…

Women are stronger together. From everything I have seen in my coaching work women collaborate, champion and support each other in healthy working environments. That I why I enjoy bringing women together for coaching.

Last year, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, I led the first cohort of the Influence & Impact™ programme for women in leadership roles in fundraising. We welcomed 22 women from across the charity and education sectors and took them through the three core elements of my programme:

As they introduced themselves and shared why they’d joined the programme it became clear that the very things that had made them feel isolated – the self doubt, the imposter syndrome, struggling with influencing upwards – were actually what they all had in common.  From just one session they realised they were not alone and when they saw all these other successful and inspiring women who doubted themselves they realised that that perhaps they too were successful and inspiring. 

That is the power of bringing women together.

And if your organisation won’t fund training to help you develop as a leader then please consider investing in yourself either through working with a coach or programme like Influence & Impact or actively seeking a mentor and accessing free materials such as podcasts. Ultimately the only person who is truly invested in your success and who decides what your potential is you.

Influence and Impact for Women in Leadership

Carla Miller will be running Influence and Impact for Women in Leadership again in partnership with the Chartered Institute.  

This programme is aimed at senior women in fundraising leadership roles, already operating at Head of Team or Director level, who are looking to become brilliant at influencing senior stakeholders, would like to tackle self doubt for good and make even more impact at work.

Find out more and check out when the next programme is taking place here.

Carla Miller
Carla Miller
has been coaching fundraising leaders for the past 12 years and is the author of “Leading Successful Fundraising Teams”.
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