Whilst researching for this week’s article, I had the pleasure of reading Vikram’s upcoming articles on “differences between male and female leadership styles and the notorious ‘glass ceiling’” and it has got me thinking.
- Why are less women at the top of companies?
- Is there a glass ceiling or in fact… do women not want what is currently being offered at the top of corporate businesses?
- What barriers are there to entry?
- Are there more differences in small or larger companies?
- Are women more or less entrepreneurial when it comes to setting up in business?
- What drives women to succeed and what do they consider success?
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
In a recent discussion Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” was the top of discussion
…If Maslow’s hierarchy were to be reconsidered in today’s world, would the model be different for men and women? And if there are differences in needs does this then affect what aspirations and requirements a person has for happiness?
From the moment we are born our genes shape us, the songs our mum does or doesn’t sing to us when we are little, the stories our dad reads to us, the decisions on what school to send us to, and even what trainers we wear, the friends we make, the grades and aspirations we have, what we are inspired or not inspired by at a young age, the media, our desire to succeed, our exam results, the education path we choose, our first job, our first rejection, what we like and what drives us, the relationships we have, the people that manage us… our life shapes our needs and desires.
I have never felt I could not achieve anything because of my gender – age yes, size of my brain YES but gender no. I started work early after A Levels (I just wanted to work) and studied at Open University later on in life. The biggest challenge was perception of age vs experience and gender in terms my pay packet. It wasn’t questioned that I could not do the jobs but the pay was not representative to equivalent jobs for male candidates and I have experienced this in both small and larger companies.
My life has shaped my needs.
I was brought up with food in abundance, I was loved and my mother sacrificed her career to look after myself and three siblings. My parents separated when I was 13. I was inspired by grandpa who set up and ran a successful fastening business – as well as manufacturing, he was one of the first people in the UK to import parts from the Far East.
As soon as I could get a job I did; I recommend a paper round to any teenager who needs to learn the value of money and hard work. Above anything else my desire was to be independent, in time it was a desire to be successful, I loved seeing the differences I could make and loved problem solving. The money was a drive as time progressed as I wanted recognition for the work that I had done.
My partners drive is in comparison different; he has more of a financial drive, driven by the need for security. He started life with financial struggles, coupled with his dad’s strict focus on education – this was the key to success and gave you choices. He traveled extensively, went to University to study Engineering and then qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
What needs do women at the top have that drives them forward to succeed?
Anita Roddick had an initial need to support her family and a desire to do things differently (ethically) which is what drove her business and made her stand out from the crowd
Ginni Rometty worked her way up to the top of IBM learning the business from the ground up. She is highly educated, well supported by her husband and has no children. I think what drives her is her need to learn and to push the boundaries on herself so she can keep growing and developing. Also to problem solve – something I am sure she is challenged and motivated by on a daily basis. In an interview (shown here) she talked about developing her confidence to push herself beyond what she felt were her capabilities being what has led to her success.
Through my upcoming articles I am going to look for what “needs” are driving women to success and are the differences in these needs, our individuality or gender related.
People at the top of organisations need to understand their personal needs, the needs of the organisation and the people around them. Footdown’s Business Leader Mentoring Groups, School of Coaching and Performance Method (Insight), all set out to help CEO’s, business leaders, and organisations do just that:
“Align individuals’ objectives with the goals of the organisation.”
If the lower level needs are being met; you are safe, fed, watered, loved (not that basic) and educated then we as individuals can strive to achieve the higher needs and in turn help others.
So what are your needs?
Further reading on Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: