Women, Leadership and Networking


According to the World Economic Forum in January 2023, only 8% of CEOs globally are women, which is up from 5% the year before.  There are 5 countries with a parliament of 50% or more women, which are, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates.  South Africa is just behind with 46,5% of parliamentary seats being held by women.  These ladies are at the forefront, and they possess a great opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership to those who follow.

Some top takeaways from the WEF January 2023 meeting were:

  • Diversity improves economics and democracies.
  • The pandemic had a greater impact on women with many leaving the workforce – it was called a SHECESSION
  • Women need to believe in themselves and stand up for their rights.
  • We need to intentionally create pathways to leadership and support the women who are stepping out in front.  We need to be role models for those coming up behind us.

An article published by The Conversation in August 2020 mentions studies showing that, although women can be as competitive as men when competition directly benefits their children or when results are not made public, they are more likely to engage in indirect competition, such as gossip and social exclusion. 

Men were noted to be quicker to resolve low-level conflicts and tend to form large multiple levels of same-sex coalitions, whereas women form more equal-level smaller group coalitions.

Further research in 2021 indicates that when women try to undermine each other’s success, it may be based on subconscious evolutionary instincts to compete for limited resources, such as food, shelter, and potential mates.

According to Debbie Craig’s book “PowerUp8”, the World Economic Forum also outlines essential skills for the future world of work which includes “collaboration” and “change navigator”.

So, how do we merge this information and change the narrative to ensure that we set the trend for supporting and celebrating other women within our communities and networks?

Below are some insights and tips gathered from my own personal experiences through my corporate career, entrepreneurship journey and work in the Emotional Intelligence and Profiling field:

Know yourself:  Self-knowledge allows you to see the potential for change and growth.

Define your values, set your goals, and explore your triggers.  Reflect on where you invest your time and energy and know what motivates and energises you?  What inner conflict is created when these are potentially threatened? Being aware of your triggers allows you to comprehend how past wounds or experiences may be influencing your judgement and perspective.

Develop your self-confidence.

Self confidence plays a pivotal role in personal growth, well-being and success across different aspects of life.  It diminishes your need for external validation and fosters a sense of ease and security. Recognise your strengths, leverage them, and embrace collaboration with individuals who offer diverse skills. Embrace your true self and believe in your aspirations and abilities.

Adopt a life-long learning approach.

Regularly assessing your skills and capabilities to identify areas for growth ensures your continued relevance in a constantly evolving world.  The exciting aspect of learning when you are older is you get to learn things that genuinely interest you.  Find a course, join a group, and engage in new experiences.  And let go of “too” thinking.  They are too old, too young, too uneducated, too different.  Change it to “What can you two learn from one another despite being so different?”  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Recognise and celebrate other women’s achievements.

Become a devoted advocate for other women and openly celebrate their success and achievements.  Be the first to offer congratulations and support when they take on a new role.  We need to be better at this, especially in the corporate environment, and offer our genuine support for those who are promoted instead of adopting a silently indifferent approach that may suggest we are secretly waiting for them to fail. There are times when you will be the leader and times when you will be the follower.  Learn to appreciate both.

Circle or horseshoe? 

Studies reveal that we tend to network in smaller groups of people who are “just like us” in whichever way we perceive that to be.  We are quick to exclude those who are a potential threat or who don’t seem to fit the mould we have carved for ourselves.  We need to challenge this behaviour!  Invite others into the group and transform your circle into a horseshoe, which is open and always has room for more.  Step out of your own comfort zone and join other groups, chat with different people and experience different interactions.

Cultivate curiosity and Openness

As soon as we think we know everything, we close the door to learning.  Practice asking exploratory questions and attentively listen to the intriguing answers.  Hold judgement until you fully understand.  A communication model like LAER (Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, Respond) can be helpful. Take your time to listen, acknowledge and explore and even repeat that process a few times, before responding   Often our impatience rushes us to respond, when we haven’t explored enough.

Look for the lonely and the awkward

During events or functions, look for those who appear awkward or possibly lonely, and reach out to connect with them.  Loneliness and social phobia are among the top 10 fears that people have. Be the connector who bridges the gap for those who are bravely venturing into unfamiliar territory, making them feel welcomed and at ease. If possible, take it one step further and introduce them to others, helping them quickly establish multiple connections and feel relaxed.

Examine the Envy

Envy is longing for what someone else has.  When this feeling surfaces, take a moment to examine it and consider what might be causing your dissatisfaction.  Envy can be a subconscious signal that reveals your own desires and aspirations.  Do you want to achieve or do the same thing? What steps can you take to achieve a similar goal? Embrace the opportunity to learn from the person you envy; maybe they could become your mentor. By changing your perspective, you may open the door to a wonderful opportunity for your own journey of development.

In summary – Be the She you want her to Be!



Sue St Leger

Owner of Sue St Leger & Associates
Sue St Leger & Associates

Sue St.Leger, owner of Sue St Leger & Associates, shares her personal tips and thoughts on the importance of women supporting other women in business, leadership and networking. As an experienced profiler and emotional intelligence assessor, she encourages fostering a supportive and empowering environment for women through self-development.

Nicci Hosking

Nicci is our hardworking, loyal, and devoted KZNWIB administrator that is professional, personable, and committed to providing an excellent service. She can be counted on to meet deadlines efficiently with enthusiasm and high work quality.