It’s no shock to anyone when I say the higher you climb in hierarchy the female population declines.Businesspeople in a Meeting In fact, one study that examined 130 companies with more than 10,000 employees found that only 22% of middle managers were women, and 14% were vice presidents.

We could debate the reasons all day and many companies and their employees do just this. Rather than debate, my employer SAP, took a proactive approach and created the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program, or LEAP.

LEAP is currently a pilot program in North America, with the intention to grow to a global level. It’s an 18 month targeted leadership development initiative focused on talented females who have been identified as either having the potential to rise to leadership positions or who are already people leaders with the capacity for even more growth.

These women demonstrate specific characteristics, or competencies, qualifying them as leaders. According to a Korn/Ferry White Paper, Career Playbook: Practical Tips for Women in Leadership there are four overall competencies that comprise a successful C-Suite profile, they are:

  • Motivation – or those who take on challenges without hesitation which will directly benefit the direction of the organization. These individuals make happy sacrifices on work/life balance to achieve their personal goals of corporate success.
  • Style – these individuals have a brand that’s well known. They are comfortable with that brand, the skills they have, and are also aware of what others think.
  • Skill – Korn/Ferry identifies skills like business and financial acumen, strategy execution, engaging and developing talent, as well as interpersonal skills.
  • Experiences – something all should have amassed by the time they enter the C-suite. Things like general management, risk and critical assignments, and the ability to handle both tough business and people issues within the organization.

The paper goes on to share the steps required for women to further their career. They advise:

  • Think about where you are going
  • Find advocates and mentors
  • Take the risk, get the experience
  • Build confidence
  • Advocate for yourself
  • Get real feedback
  • Let go of perfectionism
  • Negotiate wisely

These 8 things bear a striking resemblance to what was shared in the 2 day LEAP Face2Face workshop. What I found though, is although LEAP and the Career Playbook are both about women progressing; the content shared is applicable to any gender, with any background, who desires some level of success in their career.

Over the past few weeks, my colleague Lindsey LaManna and I have published a number of blogs, creating our own version of a career playbook. The content in the posts derived from the LEAP sessions as well as our own complementary research. Take a moment to check all these out if you can.

Then, take a moment to watch this short clip of Anka Wittenberg, SAP’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, share her a snapshot of her personal journey to career success as a single mom with three children.