Who is the better leader— man or woman? It’s a topic being hotly debated in this election. Regardless of where we stand politically, we all look for leadership ability and a broad skill set when we cast our votes.

In a recent blog from AAUW (Association of American University Women) titled “Why We Need To Stop Equating Leadership With Masculinity,” the author cites a new study that sheds much light on why there are relatively few women in leadership roles. One of the reasons is our human history. For thousands of years, our leaders have been men. And today you don’t have to look far to find conservative viewpoints that continue to reiterate a woman’s place is at home with her children.

Even though this stereotype has been broken over and over again, especially throughout recent decades, we still have a long way to go. We only have 50 years of women’s liberation under our belt, after all.

In The Women’s Code we’ve identified many reasons why women hesitate or are hindered to step up or lean in, as Sheryl Sandberg says. Here are my top six:

6.  There is very little support for women leaders. As women and child bearers, we need support systems that encourage and enable us to do succeed at both motherhood and business.
5.  The same standard is applied to men and women. This is not what we meant when we asked for equality. We don’t need or want the same. We are seeking the equivalent. This is one of the key points The Women’s Code fights for. We want to define for ourselves what that equivalent looks like in the female version.
4.  There is a lack of leadership mentoring and coaching initiatives to teach women how to be more assertive and how to negotiate, stand up for ourselves, build teams, and resolve conflict.
3.  There is a double standard in the responsibilities we give to high-potentials. Men get bigger budgets and more opportunities, even when we say their female counterparts are just as capable.
2.  Many people still believe equality is an outlandish feminist initiative forged by men-hating women who have unreasonable demands and want to destroy masculinity.
1.  Yet, the BIGGEST reason why so few women make it to Sheryl Sandberg’s level is because women leadership is not yet defined.

We do it to ourselves. When I ask women about a female leader they admire, only a handful give a positive response. What do I hear most often? Not her, I can’t stand her, I don’t believe her, she’s fake. The double standard and scrutiny women face are well documented. Frankly that is one of the reasons why Hillary Clinton has such a hard time appealing to younger women.

However, when we talk about men in leadership, we are very generous about explaining his flaws away. That was a long time ago, he’s a guy, he just wants to win, he’s passionate about it, he can go a little overboard, everyone knows men cheat.

Just look at what Trump fabricates and gets away with, and what portions of Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions Hillary is supposed to own. It makes my blood boil.

Truth is, when we think of trustworthy women leaders, she’s usually over age 50, like Barbara Boxer, Madeleine Albright, or Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran. Why? Because she’s no longer our competition. You may know some of your own local sheros but when I ask girls about whom they admire, it’s Ariel, Pocahontas, or a pop star like Selena Gomez. Why don’t we expose our daughters to actual women leaders so they can have a few good role models?

Do you agree we need to address and change this on a very fundamental level?

In The Women’s Code we designed a game plan. Using the three Pillars, we raise Awareness. The more I talk about this issue and the more I train organizations about changing the way women lead and work, one thing has become quite clear:

We need to identify what women leadership is and help women to own it. In The Women’s Code that means Leading on C.U.E. (Compassion, Uniqueness, and Empowerment).

Can we accept there are innate differences between men and women and the way they lead? (Yes, yes. I know not all men lead the same either, but you get my point.)

Women leadership is different. We are more community driven, we want everyone to feel like they are a part of the team, and the numbers show that when women are on board, profits go up.

What initiatives are you part of that support women?

At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”

Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.

If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.

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