In todays world, women are exercising power, authority and influence in all spheres. They are climbing the corporate ladder and breaking the glass ceiling. However, when it comes to sheer numbers in leadership positions, they fall woefully short compared to the opposite gender.
The predominant reason for this anomaly hardly comes as a surprise. A corporate woman needs to strike the perfect balance between work and family life, which is a big challenge. So, what are the enabling factors that help a woman, aspiring for a leadership position, achieve this fine balance?
Success means influencing your environment and doing what makes you happy. The key to this is to take out time for each of the four quadrants -- self, family, profession and society. The organisations support is extremely important for any woman aiming for a leadership position, says Prativa Mohapatra, Director, IBM Global Business Services.
According to Mohapatra, IBM is one such organization that helps women realize their leadership potential. This is corroborated by the fact that in IBM, US, in the top 20 people in leadership, 30 percent are women.
Mohapatra herself is part of the IBM India Leadership Forum, the GBS India Leadership team and had been a long standing member of the IWLC (India Women Leadership Forum). She has worked extensively in the US,South East Asiaand neighboring countries.
The IT giant provides flexibility and mentorship two key components needed for grooming a leader, she claims.
For women, there is an option to work from home. The company also provides extended maternity leave for women employees. For mentoring women to take up leadership positions, IBM has focused skill enhancement programmes. Programs such as Taking the Stage for fostering leadership is a great initiative, says Mohapatra.
While it is important to get support at work, women also need a supportive home for them to turn into successful leaders.
As Archana Kapoor, publisher of Hardnewsmagazine, an independent political monthly fromDelhi says, Women also have ambitions, goals and targets. That they have a supporting husband is a big help in achieving their own goals.
Kappor says it was because of her supportive and a trusting husband that she was able to take on projects which would otherwise have been impossible.
Whenever I got a challenging project, my husband would say why not. I have taken up assignments that required traveling for six months at a stretch just because my husband had the trust and confidence in me. In fact, I was traveling during my daughters board examinations, says Kapoor, who has an experience of over 20 years in media and communication. In addition to being a publisher, she is also a filmmaker, author and an activist.
Mohapatra, meanwhile, believes the best arrangement at home for both husband and wife to focus on their respective careers is to Divide and Rule.
The couple should divide work between them and then rule time. They need to filter the social norms and remove the women should do this, and the women should do that mindset. The key to success and eventually emerging as a leader is to eat, pray and love, she adds.