Emotional Intelligence: Women's Unexpected Key to the C-Suite

March 16, 2018


Women in the modern workplace often carry with them personal career hopes, ambitions, and goals. However, when compared to men, women also face numerous obstacles when striving to obtain positions at the C-Suite level. This is due to the invisible “glass ceiling,” which can impede women’s abilities to reach senior leadership positions by placing additional professional barriers in their paths.


But these glass barriers have not kept some powerful women from reaching high-level executive positions, such as the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi. As professional women, it’s vital that we understand how we can enable ourselves to gain experience, become empowered, and move into the leadership positions to transform an organization, inspiring other high-potential professional women to do the same.


Canadian Women in Managerial Positions


According to information from Stats Canada, there has been a substantial increase in participation from women in the Canadian labour market over the second half of the 20th century. In 2016, women accounted for 47.3% of the labour force, as compared to 37.1% in 1976.


Although the number of women currently participating in the workforce is almost equal to that of men, the progress of women attaining senior management positions has not kept pace. Catalyst shares statistics that demonstrate that men are 2-3 times more likely to have a position in senior management than women, with women accounting for only 37.1% of senior management positions.


So what’s impeding women’s ability to break through the glass ceiling and attain an equal number of senior management and C-Suite level positions? Sahar Andrade shares just some of the barriers that women face when trying to move forward into C-Suite leadership positions, including:

  • An unconscious bias against women,

  • Organizational structures that don’t include women in part of their succession planning or advancement activities,

  • Gender stereotypes, such as having a family life and therefore not being dedicated to a C-Suite position,

  • Lack of professional sponsorship,

  • Unequal work cultures, and

  • Not having a seat at the table.

Shattering the Glass Ceiling for C-Suite Success Using EI


Many organizations are taking the necessary steps to create a work environment that effectively empowers women to reach the C-Suite level of leadership. There are also steps that women themselves can take to thrive in their professional lives and overcome any fears, self-doubt, and confidence issues that tackling career obstacles might create.


High Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a vital component of effective leadership. Not only do EI skills help leaders interact better with their colleagues, but they assist them in navigating barriers and shattering the glass ceiling. EI coaching and training aims to develop the ability to maintain healthy emotions and relationships, encompassing emotional factors such as:


  • Self-regulation,

  • Self-awareness,

  • Empathy, and

  • Social skills.

EI is an asset for any woman looking to empower herself and her colleagues to overcome their professional barriers, while educating others about how to create gender equality throughout an organization. Using EI to shatter glass ceiling and build better relationships at the C-Suite level can not only help women attain these positions, but will help them to be effective executive leaders to move an organization forward.


If you’re looking to maximize your potential and take the next step on your C-Suite leadership journey, contact us today to discuss Emotional Intelligence certification programs and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.


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