If a four year old can do it…
Almost every executive, CEO, business owner, and manager that I have spoken with over the past 10 years asks the same question, “How do we get more women in leadership roles in our company?” The problem is large, vast, and permeates almost every industry and there isn’t a magic elixir that will instantly solve the problem.
My answer to the inquisitive CEO is generally, “What are you doing to mentor women throughout your organization?” We then have a great discussion on recruiting methods, onboarding strategies, mentoring across divisions, diversity, and the good ole’ boy network.
But the other day as I was watching my granddaughter at the playground, it struck me! At some point, many women surrender their leadership DNA during their childhood and then spend the rest of their lives trying to find it.
The playground story that resulted in my “aha” moment…
Blake, my granddaughter, was playing with the other kids on the playground equipment. It was the usual equipment with a jungle gym type apparatus which included a ladder, a platform to stand on at the top, and a slide down the other side. Blake was helping all the other kids get on the ladder and sort of guiding them up the ladder to the platform. No one told her to do this; she just assumed the role of helpful friend. She was at the bottom helping them get to the top.
At some point, she stepped into the queue and walked right up the ladder, turned around and started reaching out to help the remaining kids while standing on the platform. As each kid got close to the top, she reached out with an extended hand to give them a boost up the last step.
I asked her why she moved from the bottom of the ladder to the platform and she said, “Nana, why should I stay down there and get sand in my eyes when I can help everybody from up here?”
- She didn’t wait for someone to give her permission to move up to the platform.
- She didn’t wait for someone to tell her how to get on the platform.
- She didn’t wait for someone to tell her she now had the experience she needed to be on the platform.
- She didn’t question whether or not she should be on the platform.
- She just saw a need and moved there all on her own!
As Blake went back to play, I pondered at what point would she surrender to the idea she isn’t qualified to be on the platform, make the decision to stay on the ground, and wait until someone tells her she now has the experience to move up?
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