Learn, unlearn, relearn (Part 5): The only leverage a women leader has is herself

Forget chasing the points or beefing up your CV. Lifelong learning is now a requirement for executives and thinking professionals marching confidently into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Executives told Kate Ferreira.

UCT GSB offers a number of courses designed with just this kind of professional in mind, including – notably – a course aimed especially at women leaders.

This great for the women on the course, sure, but it is also a boon for business. “Despite ample evidence that having more women in senior roles is good for business, women continue to face challenges in the workplace. The only leverage a leader really has is herself,” says Liz de Wet, course coordinator for the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business Executive Women in Leadership course. “This is something that strong women leaders demonstrate very strongly. So this is what we look at in the Executive Women in Leadership programme (EWIL) – how to assist women transform the self to amplify impact both for themselves and their organisation.

Liz says it is a unique programme that builds leadership capability, and gives supportive coaching to participants to increase personal and professional impact.

“There are myriad reasons why women still struggle to move from middle to senior management: partly because women may have more family obligations, lack confidence to pursue more senior positions, or fear coming across as unlikable if they are ambitious,” says Kumeshnee West, director of Executive Education at UCT GBS.

“Having a greater appreciation of the difficulties women face and overcome in different sectors, can help build better strategies to support them in meaningful ways. Leadership is a practice, and this will be influenced by the environment in which women find themselves. 

“The UCT GSB has relationships with many different sectors through its work in the customised education space and this knowledge translates into its leadership short courses including the EWIL programme that is specifically constructed to give women the tools to increase their leadership impact and visibility wherever they find themselves. Most GSB courses also encourage delegates to work with a specific challenge they are encountering in their sector for the duration of the programme,” she adds.