• Leadership

From Specialist to Strategist

Helping women move beyond their professional specialisations up into strategic leadership

Wednesday 03 August 2016


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Despite political initiatives to encourage more female business leaders, the percentage of women high earners, in the UK, has remained the same for the past five years. According to lawyers Clyde & Co., using data obtained from HMRC, out of 4.64 million higher rate taxpayers recorded last year, just 1.26 million were women.

This ties in with one of the key priorities recently identified in Smith College’s Trends in Leadership Development* survey in the US. Respondents from Fortune 500 companies highlighted the need to develop women leaders at the mid-career level. Men and women graduates start their business careers in roughly equal numbers, and yet there remains a shortage of women leaders in the C-suite and beyond, and this represents a waste of talent on both sides of the Atlantic.

With still less than 20% of corporate board seats belonging to women, organizations, according to the Smith survey, are now “placing importance on grooming women to be senior leaders.” In this endeavour, one area that organizations must focus on is the reluctance of many women to move beyond their particular professional specialisation up into strategic business leadership roles. This was an issue mentioned by the ICAEW speaking to IEDP and in relation to the lack of highly qualified female accountants not moving up to be CFOs and is clearly a concern in other professions too.

It is a problem that is addressed in the five-day leadership program ‘From Specialist to Strategist’, a collaboration between Smith College, home of the nation’s first engineering program exclusively for women, and the Society of Women Engineers, the world’s leading professional organization for women engineers.

More than fifty Fortune 500 companies have sent their future women leaders through ‘From Specialist to Strategist’ since 2003, and it is instructive to see the areas that this watershed program covers:

Setting the Stage for Strategic Leadership

  • Developing creative capacity to respond to complex situations with speed
  • Discussing common traps that limit productive thinking
  • Learning strategies to recognize valuable unseen patterns and innovative possibilities

 Energy for Performance in Life

  • Becoming more productive under pressure by managing energy effectively
  • Applying the science of performance technology, exercise physiology, and nutrition
  • Engaging the four dimensions of life: physical, mental, and spiritual

 Negotiation for Leaders: Rethinking the Way We Manage the Process

  • Analysing and developing a vocabulary and framework for negotiations
  • Learning to plan and prepare for complex negotiations
  • Developing tools to expand and claim value to achieve high-quality outcomes

 Communicating Messages for Maximum Impact

  • Understanding audiences to tailor messages to their needs
  • Effective strategies and techniques to humanize complicated information and bring your story to life
  • Creating a powerful presence so others see you as a ‘take-charge’ communicator

 Take-off for Teams Simulation

  • Employing tools and skills to improve productivity
  • Building a customer-oriented high performing team
  • Practicing intentional leadership to leverage your strengths

 Strategic Leadership in Action

  • Bringing the future to the present and conquering uncertainty
  • Inspiring people and evoking passion with a compelling noble purpose
  • Creating an environment for collaborative value innovation

 Leadership Narrative

  • Integrating knowledge with personal insights and wisdom for greater clarity and purpose


* To read Smith College’s ‘Trends in Leadership Development’ survey click on DOWNLOAD THIS RESOURCE below 

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