Glass Ceiling Grans 2-0

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Anna Letitia Cook

Energising International Executives for more successful, productive, fulfilling leadership
International Executive and Holistic Success Coach | Author | Podcast Presenter | 30+ years working internationally

Christine Lagarde,  Hillary Clinton, Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Indra Nooyi (Pepsi), Carolyn McCall (EasyJet) and Moya Greene (Royal Mail) – what do these leaders have in common? Power – obviously – but also being women and over 50! Winners on two strikes – one in the eye for chauvinists and equally (or more) importantly, ageists!

So what could be the reasons why they are really stepping into the high point of their careers now? Age and experience! They are the granny age. It is a time of life when many – both men and women – are starting to think of retirement: gardening, relaxation, winding down in general. BUT, it doesn’t have to be like that. For these shining examples of energy, dynamism, ability and ambition have had their families; mostly their children are at – or have left – university, business school etc. These powerful women have managed their lives and careers around their families which has given them an opportunity to mature, gain extensive experience and understand more deeply the challenges of leading, managing and delegating.

They are now coming into their own and have the time, energy and availability to ramp up their careers and lead. They have had more education than any women before them, and in several ways they are better suited to change gears now and take power later in life. Whether it is fair or not, many women are held back until midlife by motherhood and having to be more present in the home. Now, at this stage, they have already proved themselves during the previous 10-20 years and this leads to a new possibility: they can have it all by having it at different times. It is not uncommon for relatively high-level female executives to hover in the sidelines until their children get to university age, when they can then move into overdrive with at least 15 years ahead of them to break right through that glass ceiling.

Not only in politics and business, but now models are also being valued and becoming the ‘egerie’ of some fashion and beauty houses. Think of Helen Mirren, 69, for L’Oreal; Marie Helvin, 62, for lingerie by Aliza Reger.

Overall, it is a pleasure to see how opportunities are opening up for us 50+ers – male and female – who enjoy life and don’t consider ourselves any older than we were 20 years ago; just wiser, more experienced and better suited to set an excellent example and lead with focus, support and understanding. Obviously, not every corporation has this same vision, to say the least…

However, we also have the experience and know-how to ‘re-purpose’ our skills and open up new opportunities in different directions.  Are you suited to passing on your talents by mentoring in your own (or other) businesses or corporations? More and more businesses and individuals are looking for mentors to help transitions and with supporting newly promoted executives. Not only does it give you a chance to remodel your expertise, but also you are helping someone moving up. Helping others has its own reward. Also, it is fun to be working with younger people, who are full of enthusiasm and new ideas. You can create an amazing team!

If your current job seems to be winding down and you suspect your company no longer looks on you as a rising star or high-flyer, look to ALL your skills and interests. Think about what you do – or are involved in – outside of work. Consider what your long-put-aside passions and dreams are and see how you can resurrect them. Analyse all this as you would a new contract in project management. Go through a personal SWOT, look at the hedgehog concept, check out the TOWS matrix, use the process I created – SCOPE for Career Fulfilment – and with all these tools, see how you can realign strengths and choices, then create your strategy for changing direction to open up new opportunities and, as an added value, gain more fulfilment in your life and career!

They say a change is as good as a rest, and boy is that true. You would be amazed at how full of energy you are each morning as you wake up with additional purpose and focus; how you jump out of bed looking forward to what the day will bring. You look younger, feel better, have a smile on your face and why not? You have discovered your own personal ‘Fountain of Youth’ 🙂

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