Monday, 22 February 2016

“How Can Women Break Glass Ceiling?” ―Professor M.S.Rao

“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.” ― Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO of Sam’s Club

On February 19, 2016, I keynoted a leadership conference in India where I shared my leadership ideas and insights on my upcoming book titled, “21 Success Sutras for CEOs: How Global CEOs Overcome Leadership Challenges in Turbulent Times to Build Good to Great Organizations.” The audiences were leadership practitioners from middle level to senior level. One of the women practitioners asked me the following question, “How can women break glass ceiling?”

A shocking research report by McKinsey in 2011 unveils that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments. It is unfortunate that there is a glass ceiling prevalent globally.  Glass ceiling is all about an invisible barrier that prevents women and minorities to scale corporate ladder. It is often tough to identify but it can be felt especially by the women. There are many ways this issue can be addressed. Here are some tips to address it earnestly:

Women must remove their mental blocks that they cannot compete with men to reach leadership positions.  They must be very confident in undertaking leadership roles and responsibilities. They must handle organizational challenges effectively. They must avoid preconceived notions that men don’t allow them to grow professionally. They must take risks to prove themselves. They must draw inspiration from successful women leaders like Hillary Clinton, Indra Nooyi, Ursula Burns, and Sheryl Sandberg who broke glass ceiling and succeeded globally as leaders.  

Women have many advantages over men since they can multitask and work under pressure with patience and perseverance. They are strong in emotional intelligence and soft skills. They have the heart to forgive and forget. They can handle leadership responsibilities effectively without any fear. What they must do is to build their own qualitative network to grow instead of depending solely on male network. They must work hand in hand with their close connections to fight for their rights to establish themselves to excel as leaders.


Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corp remarked, “If you are sitting around the table but you say nothing, that's a lost opportunity. Move beyond that and say something about what you have to offer. The reason you’re there is because you have something valuable that can be added.”  As men add value to organizations, women also add immense value to organizations. Leadership is not gender-based but purely performance-based. Women must break their mental barriers to compete and collaborate with men as per the situation to improve organizational bottom lines.  Melanie Hope, wrote in Get Over It & Get Started: Self Help with a Spine! “No glass ceiling was ever shattered by a whiner.” Therefore, women must not whine to excel as winners in all spheres of life.  

A bird cannot fly with one wing since it needs two wings to fly. Similarly, no society can progress without the support of women. It requires support from both men and women to build a better global society. Hence, it is essential to respect women with dignity and honor and empower them to build a better global society.

“This is the ultimate chicken and the egg situation. The chicken: Women will tear down the external barriers once we achieve leadership roles... The egg: We need to eliminate the external barriers to get women into those roles in the first place. Both sides are right.” ― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

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Life is great!

Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Recipient of 10th International Prestigious Sardar Patel Award―2015
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL:

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