How to keep mid-career women on track

Mid-career is the most risky stage for potential women leaders. Enter Anne Elder-Knight and her unique Growing Greatness programme, which Beca is making available to all Diversity Agenda Founding Partners and Change Makers.

It would have been easier to roll out a new training programme just for their own employees, but Beca’s Managing Director, Darryl-Lee Wendelborn, saw an opportunity to help the whole engineering sector

Contrary to popular belief, women do not generally down-grade their drive or leave organisations because of the mid-life juggle of family and career. Instead it’s because they don’t see themselves as leaders nor have the clarity or confidence to go after what they want.

“We believed Growing Greatness would be an ideal development programme for mid-career women at Beca, but soon realised that the impact would be far greater if we took an industry-wide approach,” says Darryl-Lee. “Working with The Diversity Agenda Founding Partners and Change Makers is fantastic, because it enables more women to access the learning along with a broader network, and that’s ultimately going to lead to better outcomes for everyone.”

Growing Greatness is a unique development programme that helps participants cultivate clarity of focus, grow in confidence and enhance their already-proven capability, so that they’re ready for more influential leadership roles.

The programme was designed and delivered by Anne Elder-Knight, who has enjoyed a highly successful career in leadership and team development and executive coaching. Her passion for helping smart people step up is driving the Growing Greatness programme forward. In her own words, “I enjoy working with leaders and teams to help them identify their strengths and address their self-defeating behaviours.”

Jade Lloyd, an engineer and Project Manager for Meridian and Growing Greatness participant, had this to say about the programme, “I found that it gave me time to actually focus on me and being a female in this type of industry, you forget to stop and do that. It gave me the tools to understand and identify what I’m passionate about, what I’m really good at and what I can sell as my own personal brand.”

“It wasn’t a case of being told how to be great, it was more about understanding that we are great.” – Jade Lloyd, Growing Greatness participant

Research by Herminia Ibarra and colleagues points out that traditional high-potential mentoring and leadership education programmes are not sufficient. In addition, women need:

• Insights into their own, as well as organisations unconscious bias and how this might be self-limiting
• A safe space for learning, experimenting, and connection with similarly positioned women to support them in transitioning to more influential roles
• Development efforts anchored not simply in skills but in their own sense of leadership purpose and contribution.

Growing Greatness is designed to specifically address these needs, and the programme weaves together themes of authenticity, presence influence and courage. As Anne Elder-Knight says, “show someone how to get out of their own way, and the potential at an individual and collective leadership level is huge.”

“Working with The Diversity Agenda Founding Partners and Change Makers is fantastic, because it enables more women to access the learning along with a broader network, and that’s ultimately going to lead to better outcomes for everyone.”

The programme includes four full-day workshops run over a 4-6 month period with additional online group mentoring sessions in between. It combines the best of seminar delivery, mentoring and peer-coaching to provide a tailored and personal approach to each participant’s development.

Participants leave with:

• Strategies, tools, and confidence to address the unique challenges women face
• Knowledge of where and what support they need and how to access it
• Clarity on their leadership purpose and identity, and how this aligns with how they want to lead
• Increased motivation to step up with greater clarity on career direction.

The programme has been so successful it’s being rolled out in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch from June this year. If there are women in your organisation you would like to attend, please indicate your interest by 26 April by emailing pauline@anneelderknight.com who will be able to provide further information.

Anne Elder-Knight, who designed and leads the Growing Greatness programme, has enjoyed a highly successful career in leadership and team development and executive coaching both in New Zealand and overseas. Her passion is for helping smart people step up. She works with leaders and teams to help them identify their strengths and address their self-defeating behaviours, ie show them how to get out of their own way so that they can realise their individual and collective leadership potential.

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