In this exclusive interview with us, Graham shared his views and challenges women face in developing their full leadership potential.
Gender Barriers to Business Success
According to Graham, one of the biggest barriers to success for women is the fact that some women are stuck with the label of being a woman accepting their social role and buying into whatever they have learned about being a woman. It restricts women from being free thinkers. They are limited by the definition given by others.
Another barrier is “the good old boys club” which fuels inequality and the notion that women don’t play golf or sports and simply don’t understand the concept of team play. There is a clear access issue and it is only recently that women started to organize themselves in networks and groups. As women get more involved, building their self-esteem moving beyond the ascribed labels they will be able to see themselves as true equals and confidently bring their unique expertise and strength without having to apologize for being a woman.
Women Leadership in Transition
In the years since women have been introduced to “leadership studies,” we wanted to know what Graham has learned about women leaders and the contexts that promote and sustain women’s leadership.
Graham asserts that women can accomplish as much or more as their male counterparts once they come together and build an empowerment base. He cautions that women, as they build this power base, are susceptible to fall into similar discriminatory practices and patterns as the “good old boys club.”
In any group that comes together to represent themselves, members are often not flexible enough to include other people. Graham asserts that as women leadership has been in transition this has been an interesting phenomenon to watch. He sees women coming to power and earning money in these settings engaging in the same discriminatory practices. Graham advices that this is something to think about as women go through this transitional phase.
Stedman Graham Guides Women to Success
Even if a woman leader adopts a gender-neutral view of the world, chances are the people around her probably will not. The differences explain why understanding gender roles is vital for women in leadership. we asked Graham how to build a much needed foundation for leadership growth to address this issue.
“It is important to own your own self and your own mind,” Graham responds. “This is why the Nine-Step Process discussed in my books is so important. It teaches ownership of oneself. It teaches how to develop a process for continued self development so one can improve. Everyone has 24 hours. The question is, what do you do with your 24 hours?”
The combination of understanding one’s identity, skills and vision, are the foundation of Graham’s teaching, allowing women to translate a mission into an action plan. There will be obstacles, discrimination and sometimes public policy restricting her to work within a certain system. To be able to lead herself requires flexibility, mobility and patience to overcome those obstacles. His Nine Steps give women a process they can believe in and put into action.
For Stedman Graham everyone is equal and what makes a person strong is to be able to create a purpose in their life that allows them to sustain themselves despite any barriers and maintain strength to last a lifetime. “If you have that, you can develop, evolve and grow without being self destructive.”