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Leadership is a journey which starts from the first day at work, and in some cases even before that at school or university
What have you achieved over the last five years? When we are in business we tend to focus on the future, to look at the next reporting cycle, the next product launch or the next round of cost-cutting measures. But sometimes it is important to look back, to review our achievements and our failures, to learn in order that we may better shape the future of our organisation.
One area in which a number of organisations may justifiably be proud of their record over the last five years is the way in which they stepped up to the challenge set by Lord Davies in boosting female representation at board room level.
When Lord Davies set the 25% representation challenge it was seen as an immensely stretching target, with many commentators believing that it could not be achieved without a measure of coercion. But FTSE 100 companies rose to the challenge and now boast an average of 26.1% female representation at boardroom level with FTSE 250 companies currently at 19.6%.
So successful has Lord Davies been that in his final report he has recommended an even more stretching target for the next five years, looking towards a 33% representation level for all FTSE 350 companies. Whether or not the target will be reached will be partly dependent on the way in which organisations can work to bring women into executive and leadership positions at all levels throughout businesses. This in turn means that the new target is not simply a challenge for FTSE 350 companies, but is in fact a challenge for every business.
Leaders don’t suddenly spring fully formed at the top of organisations. Leadership is a journey which starts from the first day at work, and in some cases even before that at school or university. When I empower someone to make decisions, when I ask for suggestions and solutions, when I encourage participation and feedback, then I am helping to lay the foundations for a lifetime of leadership learning. It doesn’t matter whether someone’s first job is in a small, medium or large business; what matters for their future and for the future of the businesses which will employ them along the way is that they are given the chance to learn and to grow.
The spotlight is therefore very firmly on current leaders and the challenge is for them to step up and shape the leaders of tomorrow. What have you achieved over the last five years? More importantly, what are you going to help people to achieve in the next five years?