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Thought Leadership for Women

Now that a major U.S. party has finally nominated a woman as its presidential candidate, the final taboo in American politics has been breached

Although many countries have had female heads of state, the possibility of Washington joining this club is great news for millions of public and private sector women who struggle every day to break through the glass ceiling.

For while more and more women are in leadership positions and pursuing transformational projects, helping to forge their countries’ social and political agenda, starting companies, and innovating, their contributions at times go unnoticed.

Whether it’s a matter of doing away with old customs and habits or overcoming historical and social stereotypes, when it comes to positioning themselves as thinkers, opinion makers, or experts very few women attain the level of visibility today’s world requires.

Adding to the difficulties they face in being heard and respected, they face pressures related to their physical appearance and how they are perceived by others. We see hundreds of male leaders being heard and followed today... Why is the same not true of women?

Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive, is perhaps the best proof these hurdles can be cleared. With her LeanIn.org nonprofit, she has inserted herself in the female leadership conversation in a spectacularly effective way. However, there has been nothing magical about her success, nor did it occur overnight. She first wrote several articles, then gave motivational TED Talks, and subsequently authored a book and launched the Lean In Circles program.

Sandberg charted a course that has led her to this point. She discovered an effective method for making her voice heard, became a role model for other women, and has succeeded in having her female leadership style incorporated into today’s business culture.

That’s the path forward. We need more women leaders who are heard, supported, and followed in large numbers, working to transform society.

An increasing number of women in Latin America occupy managerial and executive positions. Positioning themselves as thought leaders and gaining greater stature and credibility should be an essential part of their professional development agendas. This requires coming up with effective ways of communicating and articulating inspiring ideas, accompanied by actions that are authentic and representative of their experience, vision, and passion for the industry or sector they lead.

The good news today is that numerous tools, channels, and methodologies can be leveraged for support. A well-designed thought leadership program can help promote thought-provoking and innovative ideas, bringing a project from conceptualization to production and onward to the positioning phase.

How can women embark on this adventure? Here are some key steps:

• Define an objective. The most successful thought leaders have a clearly defined objective in mind, whether that be to gain recognition, credibility, or the respect of their peers and the public.

• Identify the voice. The key to standing out among the rest is not to scream the loudest but to have an identifiable and authentic voice. New female thought leaders can turn to coaching to develop that unique positioning.

• Analyze strengths and weaknesses. It’s crucial to evaluate the qualities and perceptions that can make a female leader stronger and reduce her vulnerabilities.

• Create a positioning platform. Developing a strategic messaging platform using baseline indicators to differentiate oneself from other thought leaders.

• Produce fact-based and multi-platform content. Creating serious and properly documented content for multiple channels helps boost credibility.

• Create visibility. Strategically participating on social platforms and using the right tools is key to attracting target audiences.

Women who succeed in positioning themselves as thought leaders not only benefit themselves. Studies show that organizations with more women in leadership positions achieve better results due to the perspective, charisma, and practical vision those individuals provide.

In today’s diverse world, long-term results are only attainable if we effectively incorporate the transformational ideas and projects of all members of modern society.

Newlink Vice President

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