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Navigating Career Evolution – Insights From A Decade Of Webinars For Future Female Leaders

Since 2016 Jacqueline has been dedicated to empowering and inspiring future female leaders, sharing her tips and strategies through Elevate, a global virtual programme where over 9000 women have graduated. She is the host of the Finding Your EPIC podcast and author of the Finding Your EPIC book, published 2024.

 
Executive Contributor Jacqueline Frost

Over the past decade, career development programmes have expanded significantly, prompting questions about the evolving standards for success. At Elevate Talent, we have been delivering monthly webinars for emerging female leaders since 2016, consistently addressing key themes while adapting to the changing business landscape.


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Analysis of participant responses from our September 2020 and January 2024 sessions, along with a recent LinkedIn poll, highlights changing perspectives on strategies that achieve career advancement.


When I started my investment banking career in the early 90s, I participated in a six-week graduate course in New York, where approximately 100 graduates from around the world underwent extensive and rigorous training. Interestingly, not a single hour of the programme was dedicated to what has since been referred to as 'soft' skills and is now considered as 'core' skills.


Since that time, the landscape of career development programmes and opportunities has significantly expanded. Whilst this is an important development, has it also raised the bar for what ‘good’ and ‘great’ look like?


On the one hand, you could argue no. Certain skills have always been essential because, at the very core, human behaviour has not changed. At Elevate Talent (where we have been running ‘Elevate’, a monthly virtual career development programme for future female leaders, for over 8 years now), we put these skills into four categories – Exposure, Performance, Impact, and being Conscious - which we call the EPIC Formula®.


Over this time, while we have never repeated a session (considering the constantly evolving business world), certain themes, ideas, and strategies remain consistent.


We kicked off the year with an E for Exposure topic – ‘Mastering Visibility’ – which involves establishing strong connections, having a good reputation, and others remembering your contributions and results. Let’s face it though, this has always been a key ingredient to career success. That said, how has this skill been viewed over the years and is it being embraced?


To find out our Elevate attendees’ thoughts on this, we started the session with a poll asking, ‘How do you feel about taking the action that gives you high visibility?’ giving them four options:


  • Like it

  • Depends on my mood/who it is

  • Don’t mind it

  • Hate it

Just over 1000 women voted, with 37% saying they ‘like it’ and only 6% saying they ‘hate it’. What is interesting is we ran the same poll back in September 2020. In the past, it was often viewed that working on our visibility meant 'blowing our own trumpet,' a notion that doesn't sit well with many people. So, it should hardly be a surprise to learn that attitudes towards managing your profile were not as favourable.


Whilst ‘depends’ and ‘don’t mind’ were the same or very close to the 2024 results, ‘like it’ was 30% lower in 2020 at 26%, with ‘hate it’ three times higher at 18%. 


These changes in the poll results from September 2020 to January 2024 suggest there has been a shift in attitudes towards visibility and actions that give high visibility. But why has this happened? There are several possible factors at play here:


  1. Evolving Perspectives: Over the years, societal attitudes towards self-promotion and personal branding have changed, impacting individuals' comfort levels with visibility. This, coupled, with the continued rise of social media and professional networking platforms, places a growing emphasis on actively managing one’s professional image.

  2. Changing Work Environments: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the working landscape, with many individuals adopting a hybrid work model. This shift may have altered perceptions of visibility, as remote work often requires individuals to be more proactive in highlighting their contributions. Changes in workplace dynamics, leadership styles, and organisational values may also have played a role in shaping attitudes toward self-promotion.

  3. Impact of Professional Development Initiatives: Organisations and professional development programmes, such as ‘Elevate’ may contribute to changing attitudes. Our focus on skills like exposure, one of our four pillars for career success, involves redefining these concepts and dispelling associated myths, which have potentially contributed to a positive evolution in participants' perspectives over time.


On that note of redefining concepts, we advocate for a set of steps that are far more powerful and consistently effective in achieving favourable visibility than ‘tooting your own horn’. These steps start with understanding the psychology behind capturing and maintaining attention, encapsulated in the following three principles. 


The first, the Primacy Effect, states that our ability to recall information is better for details shared at the start of a conversation. This underscores the importance of making a positive first impression, not only in interviews and special events but also in our daily interactions. Similarly, the Recency Effect dictates that we tend to be better at remembering the last things that are said, which emphasises the importance of concluding meetings and conversations on a good note. Finally, the Exposure Effect highlights the crucial role of repetition This is a well-known and influential tool used in advertising to foster familiarity and trust which is equally powerful in the workplace.


In summary, these changes in the responses from 2020 to 2024, highlight the importance that development programmes stay up to date with evolving trends. Although the data shared is exclusively female, it would be interesting to discover if there would be a similar evolution if we had equivalent data for an all-male audience. The comparison could potentially offer valuable insights into gender-specific shifts in attitudes toward career-related perceptions.


Find out more in my new book “Finding Your EPIC” launching May 16th – free first chapter available for download from May 6th!


Read more from Jacqueline Frost

 

Jacqueline Frost, Founder and Creative Director at Elevate Talent

Jacqueline is a recognized leader in female executive development and mentoring. While her background includes a significant tenure in investment banking, her passion lies in empowering women to excel in leadership roles. She started her mentoring journey in 2009, sharing invaluable strategies for navigating high-pressure environments. Realizing the transformative effect of these lessons, she founded Elevate in 2016. This global virtual leadership program has equipped over 9,000 women from 50 countries with the skills to lead and influence in diverse industries. Her vision is to make leadership development accessible to women worldwide.

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