Three Big Blunders to Avoid When Developing Your Women’s Leadership Program

My colleague and friend, Laurie Genevish, co-wrote this with me.

As developers and presenters at women’s leadership programs, we often see the same costly mistakes and misconceptions. Here are three big blunders to avoid when developing yours.penske

1. No clearly defined purpose.
Like with anything new, you need to understand why you’re doing it. Having a clearly defined purpose will attract critical buy-in and engagement from senior management and participants, determine the components of your program, and drive all your communications.

While a women’s leadership program is certainly a competitive advantage, that’s not a strong enough purpose. Better examples would be that you want to groom the high-performing women leaders of your company as part of your succession plan, or to attract and retain more women who value these programs.

2. Not knowing how to engage the women.
Each person has different motivators. Your women employees may want to develop their skills, improve their work-life balance, get promoted or earn more money. They may want to network with and learn from those from other departments, or have their opinions valued and ideas implemented. Find out what those desires are by asking them directly or conducting surveys or validated assessments. Since motivations will change and new employees will join your company, consider asking every year.

3. Creating a one-time only event.
This is where that clearly defined purpose helps. A one-time event may feel good in the moment but the impact will quickly wear off. If you want to create sustainable change, you need to incorporate different activities. These might include an annual Q&A with senior leaders, a mentor program that benefits the mentors as well as the mentees, focus groups to solve company problems, and a social media platform where employees can freely share their ideas and ask for help.



Laurie Genevish is a performance improvement consultant who coaches clients on how to build and develop their women’s leadership programs. She is the president and creative force behind The Performance Difference, LLC, a firm that helps companies reduce employee turnover, improve time to productivity, and make sure they put the best people in key roles. Visit

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