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Five ways training can propel women into the boardroom


Mui Li of Muika Leadership has been conducting extensive research into the role of women in leadership. here are some of her findings.

The national and trade press is currently awash with stories and research on women in the boardroom, with column inches devoted to issues ranging from why women in business are not adequately represented to the action that needs to be taken to get them there.
Back in August I started to produce my own piece of research, and over a six-month period interviewed over 50 women in senior roles with the finance industry, investigating how they achieved success and what it took to break through the barriers that stood in their way.
The role of leadership development, mentoring, coaching, targeted training and confidence building was astonishing. Although the research in all its glory, 'Past Perspectives; Future Change' has been published, a magnifying glass has not yet been hovered over the detail, especially in terms of training.
"The role of leadership development, mentoring, coaching, targeted training and confidence building was astonishing."
So here are five occasions where training and development cropped up in the women in business research:

The opportunity to develop confidence and self-belief

One resounding notion that was carried through the interviews was the incredible amount of self-belief that these successful women possessed. One woman said: "Why have I got where I am? Staying power, sheer staying power. Never step off the path." And it was recognised in the research that although family can provide this support, so too can training and re-skilling, ensuring that determined and focused women can channel their energy into developing the right skills and attributes for their next role.


Many women spoke strongly about the role of male mentors that have supported and encouraged them throughout their careers. Although there was a clear understanding that once in a role the onus was on the individual to succeed, having the support and guidance of a mentor to get there was imperative. The majority of women with mentors that I interviewed had male mentors.


Training for management to be able to support women who take time from the workplace to have children is vital. This research revealed that many managers, department heads and business leaders are "unsure about how to react when a member of staff announces she is pregnant". Accurate and targeted programmes that give individuals guidance on how to manage these situations could benefit the manager, the woman, and also the business.

Leadership development

This research revealed that successful women in business did not achieve their position through hard work alone. There is a need for women to ensure that their company has a strategy in place to develop their leadership skills and expanding their networks was identified as crucial.


One of the most intriguing questions asked was around characteristics, and interestingly one of the key characteristics that interviewees believed stood them apart was levels of motivation. These levels of motivation need to be generated from different sources, and there is no doubt that training and development, whether that be through coaching or leadership development programmes will provide the motivation level that translates into success.
Mui Li is head of diversity and inclusion at leadership development training company Muika Leadership. Mui conducted the research across 2010 and 2011, and presented the results to a theatre of successful women within the banking sector in March 2011. You can download a full copy of the research and get in touch with Mui by visiting Muika Leadership


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