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The reason why women are becoming increasingly reluctant to take on more senior positions could be because of a warped view of leadership.
New research from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) has found large majorities of women in the United States and the United Kingdom believe the burdens of a senior role far outweigh its benefits.
The survey identified well-qualified women have a five-point value proposition when it comes to working, including the ability to flourish, excel, reach for meaning and purpose, empower others and be empowered, and earn well.
However, only marginal numbers of women believed a position with power would help them to achieve these five goals. This led to prevalent gaps between the perception of what a senior role entails and what it actually provided.
According to the survey, only 18% of American women in a non-powerful role expected an executive position to provide them with an ability to flourish. Almost six out of 10 (58%) of women with power, however, stated their jobs currently do give them opportunities to flourish.
In addition, 70% of those without power thought an executive role will enable them to excel, as opposed to 87% of women with power who stated their jobs do actually give them the ability to excel.
“Women do not understand that power can give them what they want,” the survey stated. “They perceive the burdens of leadership outweighing the benefits, when in fact power, our data reveals, is what allows women to thrive and flourish.”
The survey added this negative perception of leadership existed despite the fact that women start their careers hungry to attain a powerful job, echoing other studies which have also identified the lack of ambition as women age.
To ensure that talented women stay on track for leadership roles, the report identified companies must work to change women’s perception of a powerful position. This includes offering up role models who give voice to the substantial joys and rewards of leadership and thus inspire more qualified women to stay on track through the difficult mid-career years.
“When women perceive that an executive role will fulfill, rather than subvert, their five-point value proposition, they reclaim their ambition for leadership. Companies can also help sustain women’s ambition by giving them more of what they want,” the survey stated.