• Mary McGuire

4 ways the EDGE model helps female leaders


For the last twenty years, I’ve worked with boards and executives of global organisations facing major questions around strategy, competitiveness, and diversity. Working across all sectors and industries, I’ve seen many women struggle to get a foothold on the leadership ladder.

My experiences (and those of the women I have worked with) have taught me that there is a way of creating space for the success of today’s female leaders. It involves cultural change in organisations, certainly; yet equally, it involves women finding their voice, articulating their values, and carving out a career that is fulfilling, authentic, and compatible with family life. When women hone and fully embrace their power as influencers, they reframe the traditional leadership dialogue. Based on my coaching programs and working with countless women across many industries, I have developed the EDGE model, a unique 4 step model to help women accelerate their leadership ambitions and craft a career on their own terms. The four steps are:

  1. Evaluate what got you here

The first step is understanding the hidden (and not-so-hidden) drivers that got you to where you are today. Has your career emerged through happenstance, taking whatever opportunities come your way, or has it developed through a clear theme or central passion that has defined your life? Knowing the different directions that have affected your journey, the highs, and lows brings great insight into what has been driving you to date. With this insight, you can then ask yourself deeper questions such as:

  • Is the direction that I have taken so far, the right one for me?

  • Does my career connect with some deeper passion or purpose?

  • Do I see more positive experiences than negative ones?

Such insights allow you to take stock and decide whether you want these drivers to continue influencing you as you go forward or whether you are ready to make some fundamental changes.

  1. Define where you want to go

This may seem like an obvious step, but it is amazing how few of us set a clear course for our lives. We are driven by outside forces and circumstances that create a reactive cycle where we are constantly responding to what comes up in the moment. Unless you set the course for where you want to go, you are at the mercy of what life will throw at you. Like a ship in a storm, you will be thrown from pillar to post. If we step into a place of defining and owning our destiny, we allow ourselves to control our responses, if not the circumstances we find ourselves in.

  1. Grow into your ideal leader

We often hear the debate about whether leaders are born or made. Sometimes, someone exceptional comes along who seems to be destined for greatness, yet for the large majority, becoming a good leader is a learned process. We need to set our intention and then open ourselves to all the experiences and teaching which will enable us to do that.

If like the majority of leaders, you started inside a discipline and through skill, talent and opportunity were promoted to become a leader, you may find that your leadership skills have gaps. You may be better at analysing than facilitating. You may be better at problem-solving than collaborating. You may prefer coming up with the right solution than allowing others to find the solution themselves.

To grow into your ideal leader, you will take inspiration from outstanding role models you have encountered, find some powerful allies to support you, and start to re-orientate your leadership on how you get things done through supporting others.

  1. Empower your success

The last step is to take full ownership of your path and to show up as the empowered, intentional, and impactful female leader you want to see in the world. Empowering your success is about setting out your big vision, having a clear roadmap for success and clearing out all the clutter (literally and figuratively) that stands between you and your goals. Empowering your success is about giving yourself permission to be brilliant at what you do. So often we look outside for some endorsement of success but looking outside diminishes the power that you have inside of yourself. As soon as you fully embrace your own brilliance, everyone else will take it as standard and respond accordingly.

I’ll be sharing the EDGE model and more insights into the unique challenges that female leaders face in the coming weeks. The Female Edge will be out in September 2021. If you would like access to exclusive pre-launch content and be notified of the Female Edge Webinar register your interest here.



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