By Gail Golden, MBA, PhD
Why? Why would the Society of Women Engineers create a new program to help senior women engineers become better leaders? The eXXec program, which premiers this year on August 14-17 in Vancouver, is designed to kick women’s leadership development into high gear by focusing on four kinds of leadership – Leading Self, Leading People, Leading Change, and Leading Strategically.
Sounds good to me – but really, do we need another leadership development program? Between reading business books, listening to podcasts, attending seminars, getting mentorship – isn’t that enough?
Here are some key reasons why the eXXec program is filling a truly important gap:
- Women need special training in leadership. It’s true that many aspects of leadership are the same for men and women: strategic vision, operational excellence, inspiring and motivating others, integrity. But it’s simply easier for men to move into leadership roles because they look like our stereotype of leaders. Women have to overcome all kinds of barriers, including the fundamental problem that many people see strength as unfeminine. Kramer & Harris talk about the “Goldilocks Syndrome” – not too dominating, not too weak, just right. Women leaders need to learn how to overcome those stereotypes and barriers, even when they are inside us.
- Engineers need special training in leadership. Engineers are almost always very smart problem-solvers. They excel at quantitative analyses and logical thinking. Great tools for leaders! But true leadership also takes the ability to understand people, to win them over, to create environments which bring out their best. Those skills don’t come easily to many engineers, so they need to learn how to add them to their leadership toolbox.
- Everyone needs special training in leadership. Most business leaders give lip service to leadership development, but the hard truth is we are really busy, so development activities often get postponed in order to get the job done. Participants in the eXXec program will carve out three customized days to devote entirely to their own development and the needs of their company. In addition to this, the learning will continue after the event with access to a series of executive coaching events. This is the kind of learning experience that changes a leader’s career trajectory.
As the presenter of the “Leading Self” portion of the program, I can’t wait to spend time with high-powered women helping them to maximize their gifts and strengths. It’s going to be a great time!
Learn more and register at exxec.swe.org.