The biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is actually at the first step to manager. More men get promoted at this first step than women – for every 100 men, there’s 70 women. 
There are many different reasons for this that I’m not going to attempt to go into here. But there is one very simple reason that we can control directly. At the beginning of their careers, most men make some sort of career plan, yet far fewer women do the same.
Research also shows that men consistently focus on positioning themselves for their next move, while women tend to focus on the present and their current performance and don’t always seek out information or people useful to their future.
While there are significant systemic and societal changes that need to happen, there is one change that we can make ourselves – and that is the decision to have a plan. 
As a young woman, the biggest difference you can make is by doing these three things:
- Make a plan for where you want to go and what you want to achieve
- Better understand your own strengths, preferences, resources and any gaps you need to bridge
- Take self-awareness, self-confidence and communications skills seriously.
If planning is considered to be one of our biggest barriers to career advancement, let’s help ourselves to determine the future by thinking ahead. “Luck favours the prepared mind” as the saying goes.
Making individual commitment to career planning, taking responsibility for what we want and setting ourselves goals that will help us achieve it is a HUGE step in the right direction to owning our own progress.
Watch out for Power of a Plan Part 2 with ideas and tangible steps to help make planning easier.
 McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2019 report
 Gallagher, C. A., & Golant, S. K. (2001). Going to the top: A road map for success from America’s leading women executives.
I’m a communications specialist and coach. I run coaching and mentoring programmes for young women to help build self-awareness, self-confidence, strong communications skills and resilience.