As more and more baby boomers retire, Canadian companies are looking to the next generations to fill these roles. According to our Women Shaping Business Study, 48% of women do not aspire to advance to senior or executive-level positions. So how do we get more women to step up and take on these leadership positions? It comes down to their managers. Here are some ways that managers can identify future leaders and empower them to take that next step.


1. find out if she wants to lead

“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless (s)he is willing to climb.” - Andrew Carnegie

It is left to be said why these women do not want to move up the corporate ladder, but it is important to remember that not everyone is looking to advance to a more senior level, regardless of how much potential they may have. Find out who on your team is looking to advance and help them identify where they want to go based on their skills and talent. This may not be as easy as asking, though, as many women suffer from Imposter Syndrome (link) and may not have the confidence to identify themselves as future leaders. Take the time to figure out if they have it in them to lead. Does she have a proven track record of exceeding your expectations? Does she take ownership of the projects you give her? Does she have a positive attitude that inspires others? Consider the characteristics you think it takes to succeed in your organization and see if she possesses them.

2. motivate and encourage her

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”– Lee Iacocca

If she is looking to take on a leadership role, it is important to help her find her footing. Encourage her to enroll in courses, attend seminars and to shadow other employees to gain more knowledge and hone her skills. Showing her how important is it to develop her skills will show her that you and your organization are invested in her career development. Employees want to stay and work hard for companies that care about their professional growth, so if you invest in her she will invest in your company.

3. teach her how to lead

"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." - Warren Bennis

Being an effective leader isn’t something that you are born with it, it is a skill that needs to be developed. Leadership is a skill that can be displayed in many ways, such as taking initiative, working hard and being a team player. Help her develop this skill by holding her accountable, giving her more responsibility and by pushing her to work with as many people as possible. This will also help her to grow her network and show others in your organization what a great catch she is.

4. lean in for her

“It’s time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table.” – Sheryl Sandberg

People think of ‘leaning in’ and automatically think of how this method benefits them, but if we want to encourage young women to go after senior-level positions we need to show them it is attainable and that we support them. She will want to be in your shoes one day, so help her understand how you got there. Show her the big picture and she will be willing to do the grunt work to accomplish her goal.

want to learn more about supporting women in the workplace? check out our women transforming the workplace initiative.

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