THE X FACTOR - THE FEMALE FACTOR
In my recent ‘Champagne Consultants’ meeting, they’re my Brains Trust, their feedback hit me; “when you talk about the work you do with women, The Female Factor, your face lights up.”
It’s interesting what others observe in us when we’re in the arena.
What subject makes your face light up?
My subject is ‘Women and the need to have more female leaders in our business and community.
I’ve deducted that women carry so much baggage from their current and past roles, including home and work life, that they’re exhausted when they arrive into the present; too weighed down, missing opportunities which require them to make a sprint.
My goal is to take their baggage, unpack it, repack it with items which will never date and remove what’s unfashionably heavy and holding them back.
I recall wearing a grey suit to the office and I immediately felt ‘one of them’ – a feeling which I was unconsciously aiming to achieve. I was generally one of the few females in the office. When I reflect on my wardrobe’s era, it was a beautiful suit, however I wore it the least. I was the one wearing the canary yellow, the red and the green suit … I was fighting for my seat at the table, to be seen and heard!
It’s not 1920; it’s 2019 and before we know it, it will be 2020.
How do you want our workplaces to feel and appeal to your crew, clients and colleagues?
I don’t and shouldn’t need to share this, but I’m going to.
Women are unique; to begin with, they have the X factor – they have an extra X Chromosome. This chromosome gives us the estrogen which filtrates our bodies, think of periods, pregnancy, post-natal depression, inability to fall pregnant and then it depletes when we travel through menopause. (I’m not going to linger here – that’s another story.) These bodies of ours are wired differently. And then, there are the emotions associated with all these changes!
Women can’t be treated equal; we are unique. We bring a different and diverse set of behaviours, strengths and feelings to the table which are needed for fair appraisal of decisions in the workplace.
More men need to sit at the table – the kitchen table (Who said that?) and more women need to sit at the boardroom table.
We are all responsible to have women at the table yet it’s reliant that there is a belief and desire to be in these leadership positions. Whether it’s leading a project, being the gatekeeper to the CEO (there are some awesome EAs) or a first-time team leader.
My 12-year-old daughter proclaimed this week that she’s going to become the Prime Minister of Australia. She’s disillusioned with the behaviour of the male leaders. Only three years earlier she was surprised that I had a female doctor; she believed only men were doctors and women were nurses.
There’s a gender deafness when there is only one women in parliament.
We are stuck; sadly, women are stuck because we are invisible. There are so few women at the table that men don’t notice us, let alone hear us. As Julie Bishop, former Foreign Minister in the Australian Federal Government said, “there’s a gender deafness when there is only one (or a few) women in Parliament.”
There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other.
And worse still, some women, don’t support each other. It’s one of the worst offences in business and I believe there should be a punishable charge for being guilty of this inaction. Madeleine Albright, First Female Secretary of State of the United States of America said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other.”
What got you here, won’t get you there.
Being stuck needs action. You may know or not know you are stuck. And being pulled out is a step in the right direction; a woman needs to take control; make a choice of the change she wants to see and develop a system of behaviours to make that happen. What got you here, won’t get you there as Marshall Goldsmith, world leader in the art of coaching, told us on the front cover of his 2007 book.
Or, maybe the woman has been thrown in the deep end, into a position with no training or experience. She’ll have the technical expertise yet missed receiving the manual to follow the function of a leader.
Let’s proactively help women around us. Whether you’re a man or woman reading this (thanks for staying with me) we need to act.
Women are less likely to do this alone - they have less ego and bravado of her male counterparts. I suspect this stems from the testosterone levels in their chromosomal composition! Men sit, stand, speak, show and share differently. Sadly, we want to be treated equal, when, how can we? What we want, is to be included. The more we seek equality, the more closed we become at seeing our uniqueness.
Let’s concentrate on enabling females to become who they are and ask males to make space at the table for the female heads, hearts, and hands.
THE FEMALE FACTOR – A LEADERSHIP PROGRAM TO FUTURE PROOF YOU & YOUR BUSINESS
The Female Factor was created when a client solidified what I was observing in client workplaces. She said, “we need to help women with a ladder of frameworks, tools, techniques and tips to have presence in the room to confidently speak and take a lead.”
The speed to arrive at achieving this confidence and presence isn’t breaking any records. If anything, some businesses should be charged for going too slow, if not backwards. Those racing ahead have role-models, mentors and coaches and a clearly defined map.
However, life isn’t always laid out that way and often the confidence prohibits the urgency to request help.
I’ve researched this desire and business requirement and created a system to fast-track women to an awareness of the route on the map and arrive at where X marks the spot.
These are five factors for the journey to arrive at The Female X Factor:
1. Know your fundamental motive - your reason, purpose, philosophy, drive and allow these to do the heavy lifting when you find yourself failing.
2. Be the force. Be strong and identify with your leadership style. Find folk who will lift you, challenge you, sing your praise and remind you to play to your strengths.
3. Be flexible rather than fixed with your communication. Use your three key intelligence: emotional, conversational and relational to build and give trust.
4. Flip your thinking and focus on what you can confidently do and watch your facade take on a reputational presence.
5. Find opportunities to continue learning, experimenting with the exercises, connecting with other female leaders and developing your super X factor.
Investing in women/yourself, giving permission to someone to guide you to focus on what is more effective for your performance, rather than listening to the loudest voice, the one in your head is the ultimate approach to an agile mindset, ready and flexible to grow the X Factor.
Warming up the room. Making the space safe & creating trustworthiness.
When I work with women, I mold a psychologically safe space to connect and communicate, to be open to hear new and wise words. And, when women get together, there’s a vibe which feels like an electric blanket on a cold evening in a strange bed. There’s an immediate warmth which enables you to quickly relax and feel comfortable and trusted.
The pace of business is demanding that we provide professional development in shorter sessions, aka masterclasses, hosted in the early hours of the day or as evening classes to cause minimal interruption to the business. Although we know there is tremendous outcomes associated with having day long focused sessions, thankfully I have tested its ability to be delivered over multiple sessions.
Now is the time to consider how it’s possible to create the opportunity for the women in your organisation to get together and celebrate their uniqueness, differentiate themselves from their male counterparts and think and focus on their future as leaders of their workplace and community.
A SPECIAL PROJECT - THE FEMALE FACTOR FOR SOLE TRADERS
One of my projects is hosting a group of women who don’t have business/corporate/government funding to participate in The Female Factor. I’m thinking entrepreneurs, small business operators, sole traders, freelancers and consultants.
Do you fit one of these categories?
I want to offer you the opportunity to participate on this program. This may involve some face-to-face (the more the better) or by virtual connection and a conversation hub to enable you to create your own X Factor Tribe.
Who do you know who would sponsor this project? Are you a government department leader who values the growth of women leaders or you’d like to leave a legacy, investing in female leadership?