Colantuono on women's advancement - "Leaning in isn't enough."

Leading Women founder offers interventions for creating careers that soar

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- With the release of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, the vital conversation about women's advancement is augmented.  Her advice to women to "lean in" is important - especially for women who aren't already acting on their ambitions. However, research shows this advice is not applicable to all women.

"It's great advice for women who are on their way to middle management positions or who are already in middle management, but timid about their ambitions," said Susan L. Colantuono, founder and chief executive officer of Leading Women, an organization dedicated to advancing women from career-start to the C-suite and onto corporate boards.

"What about women already in the middle, who aspire to senior positions and are committed to doing what it takes to get there? The advice to 'lean in' has limited value to this group of women," said Colantuono.

In light of this, Colantuono highlights four corporate interventions for women to create a career that soars.

First, ensure that women develop business, strategic and financial acumen. Colantuono refers to this set of competencies as The Missing 33%™ because they represent the least discussed (and critically important) third of leadership effectiveness.

"Our research into what directors look for in C-suite candidates and executives look for in high potential candidates indicates that business, strategic and financial acumen account for 50 percent of the criteria," said Colantuono.

The second intervention is to eliminate gender bias within human resource systems. Colantuono cites findings that most companies' talent development and performance management systems over-emphasize interpersonal skills or personal greatness and under-emphasize the importance of business, strategic and financial acumen.

"Absent formal messaging about these executive-critical competencies and the lack of mentoring that women get on these issues, women are left scratching their heads about why excellent interpersonal and team skills aren't enough to get to the top," said Colantuono.

The third intervention is to address gender dynamics. Managers who make talent decisions about succession and promotions into senior management hold assumptions about women and men, careers and leadership and many of these assumptions disadvantage women. Research by McKinsey finds that of all the forces that hold women back, none are as powerful as entrenched beliefs. It states that while companies have worked hard to eliminate overt discrimination, women still face the pernicious force of mindsets that limit opportunity.

The fourth intervention is to ensure women develop competencies required at the executive level. Traditional advice lays a strong foundation for career success, but it will only take women so far. Take a look and you'll notice that most traditional advice is focused on helping women move from career-start to middle management.

"Women who are already 'leaning in' need more advice about how to move from the middle into senior positions and what they have received has been woefully inadequate," said Colantuono. "'Lean-In Circles' will play an important role in keeping the pipeline full of talented women. At the same time, we hope that organizations that truly care about women's advancement create a more comprehensive strategy to ensure that top talent is developed."

About Susan L. Colantuono
Susan L. Colantuono is an internationally known author, speaker and consultant. As CEO and founder of Leading Women she brings high-impact guidance to corporations serious about women's advancement and to women who want to build rewarding careers. Colantuono has been recognized for her contributions in this area when Providence Business News named her Business Woman Ally/Mentor of the Year.

Colantuono founded and ran the Women's Institute for Leadership at Bryant University from 2002 to 2010, is one of Rhode Island's two delegates to Vision 2020 and is past director of the Rhode Island State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).With a clarion call to action and practical advice, Colantuono's no- nonsense and comprehensive insights guide women to more inspired and confident leadership... and more fulfilling careers. Her book, No Ceiling, No Walls:What women haven t been told about leadership from career-start to the corporate boardroom, has been described as a must read by CEOs and thought leaders alike. Its lessons are used in organizations as diverse as AIPSO, Alcatel-Lucent, Amgen, DePuy (a J&J company), Campbell Soup Company, GTECH, Kodak, MassMutual, MFS, New York Life, PepsiCo, OfficeMax, Prudential, Sodexo, Sunoco, The MITRE Corporation, Williams and others. Colantuono's book, Make the Most of Mentoring: Capitalize on Mentoring and Take Your Career to the Next Level (ASK Leading Women), delivers unconventional guidance on how to tap into the power of this valuable career tool, optimize your time invested and reap high-impact benefits.

An engaging, dynamic and warm speaker, Colantuono draws on her many years as a consultant to create unique and motivating speak-inars™ -- a powerful blend of shared knowledge, wisdom and experience combined with illuminating interactive activities.

Media Contact: Susan Colantuono Leading Women, 401-789-0441,

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