Of the 2,500 companies studied, Strategy& found that women CEOs were more likely to lead companies that make or sell consumer staples, discretionary products and IT services. The number of incoming CEOs with MBAs increased by 50 percent from 2003 to 2013, and they expect that number to continue to rise.
The study also revealed that men and women who rise to the top position come from similar backgrounds. But women were hired from outside the company were more likely to be ousted.
How should a woman prepare herself for the rise to the corner office or from one CEO position to the next? Talent management firm Legacy Bowes suggests that the following strategies will help executives move up:
- Have a positive attitude;
- Be a risk taker;
- Grow your self-awareness;
- Expand your strategic thinking skills;
- Diversify your experience in different functional areas; and
- Improve your image.
They also suggest you seek out professional help in conducting self-awareness and self-development.
Steve Tappin, CEO of consultancy Xinfu, says that being a CEO is a privilege, and before anyone can become a CEO, they must first become an outstanding leader. “If you’re in it for the money, prestige and power, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” he says.
Tappin suggests doing everything it takes to be a CEO early and often in your career, from getting an ample amount of education to taking risks, working for startups, diversifying globally and working under great leaders.
Maria Rodale, chairman and CEO of publisher Rodale Inc., offers several tips to leaders and leaders-to-be. She says: believe in what you’re doing, but have a contingency plan; see things that others aren’t willing to see; and if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no one else will either.
Finally, she says, always do the right thing, but do it with love.