Leadership is the ability of a leader to guide groups, and it is one of the essential factors for us today who live with many people. Then, what do you think is especially necessary for us as women? That is women's leadership. This time, SMT met You Jaekyoung, who is working as a women's leadership coach, to find out what women's leadership is and what we can do now.
Before we start the interview, please introduce yourself briefly.
Hello, I'm You Jaekyoung. I'm a graduate of the Department of German Language & Culture at SMWU. After graduating from university, I worked in PR, sales, learning & development, and recruitment for 17 years at a semiconductor equipment company, PR agency, multinational pharmaceutical company, and an executive search firm. In 2015, I established a one-person company and started writing books. Also, I have been giving lectures on leadership and career development and running a coaching program for female office workers. Since I received my Ph.D. in business administration from Kookmin University in 2020, I have taught students as an adjunct professor.
The phrase "women leadership" is a bit unfamiliar. It is a response to the limits of patriarchal and masculine leadership that remain in today's society, but it seems a little abstract. Could you explain exactly what women's leadership means and why women need it?
The concept of women's leadership can be divided into three categories. First, female leadership in general refers to leadership that female leaders show empirically. Second, feminine leadership refers to leadership that emphasizes femininity which in turn emphasizes care and relationships. Last, feminist leadership means emphasizing leaders' feministic values and practices. I mainly define women's leadership as the process of influencing individual and group goals in situations where female leaders are involved. Women are often afraid to become leaders, but they can experience a lot of growth while playing the role of leader. So, I recommend women actively challenge themselves to become leaders.
Women's leadership coaching is not a job that we can easily see in daily life. You worked for various companies before and changed jobs, but how did you get to know about this job?
I once worked as a team leader at a multinational pharmaceutical company. I became a leader when I was young, but it didn't go very well. I think it was because of my obsession that I had to complete everything perfectly. I also felt guilty about being a bad mother since I had to take care of my two young daughters. Because of these things, I decided to help women who have the same problems. Since 2016, I have been running the "Wonder Woman Project," a coaching program for women's leadership development, to help female office workers understand themselves better and enjoy a successful working life.
You are working with the Women's New Work Center (Saeil) in various ways. What do you care about the most among the various areas you have been working in?
Last year, I participated in the "Workplace Adaptation and Career Maintenance Education Program" renewal project with Saeil Center. It deals with women's life cycle and career development, the meaning and value of work, and the importance of communication. Women who experience pregnancy and childbirth often think that success in a company is difficult. They usually focus more on their children than on themselves and neglect their ambitions. I want to help women work freely without choosing between work and children.
Currently, you lead a company as a representative of Navi & Partners. Are there any limitations that you feel as a female entrepreneur? We wonder what the pros and cons of working as a single-person entrepreneur are.
After I started a one-person company in 2015, I've never felt any limitations as a woman. In the public sphere, if a woman is a representative, an additional point is given. I also work as a professional recruitment interviewer for public institutions. I have lived as an office worker for 17 years and as an entrepreneur for 8 years, but I am much happier now. It's not without difficulties at all, but it's especially good that I can take the initiative in building my career and use my time flexibly.
You have published many books as well as career coaching. Your latest book deals with women's promotion and leadership. What should women keep in mind in order to protect their own ambitions in Korea, where there are still many people who are narrow-minded about female leaders?
Just like me, some women tend to underestimate themselves. If a company has chosen a woman as the leader of the organization, they have a good reason. However, there are many women who think they got the position by luck, not ability. There is a tendency for women to worry about making a mistake, and they are afraid of other people's judgment. I want women to be a little more confident in their work because they have enough ability. The other thing is, don't think you have to do everything by yourself. If you're having a hard time, you have to be able to ask for help. If you try to make everything perfect, you'll end up getting burnout. Two books I published, Thirty-five, I don't want to go to work and In fact, to you who are ambitious, dealt with the mindset that females should have, based on my mistakes. The two books will help guide the aforementioned.
While coaching women's leadership, you're giving dreams and hopes to many women. Have you ever received this kind of help from someone in the past?
Goo Bonhyung, a single entrepreneur and best-selling book writer, is my role model and mentor. At the end of 2010, I quit my company and took a sabbatical for a year and a half. At that time, I participated in a self-development program run by him. Thanks to him, I gained a profound understanding of myself and developed a plan for my future. Most of the plans have come true and I am currently doing this job. He passed away in 2013, but whenever I make a choice, I think, "What choice would he make?" He still lives in my heart as an eternal mentor.
It is inevitable that things sometimes go in an unwanted direction when you are in a situation where you show leadership. When this happens, how do you overcome the problem?
When I was working as a team leader in a company, I didn't know much about leadership and thought everything was my responsibility. If I were in that situation now, I would honestly tell my team members what I am lacking and ask for help. According to my research, the proportion of women is higher than that of men in terms of fear of feedback. When your job doesn't work out the way you want it to, I recommend having a growth mindset and focusing on what you can learn and develop through this work. I've been trying to think that way lately.
Many women develop their own ambitions with your help. What is the society you are trying to create while helping many people?
My vision and mission are to create a corporate organization where Korean women can work to their heart's content. My previous activities, such as coaching and writing, have focused on improving women's perception and motivating them. From now on, I will focus on what needs to be done to change organizations. The reason is that only women can develop more when an organization changes. Fortunately, I think our social system and culture are changing in a way that makes it easier for women to work. Women can be given more opportunities in the future, develop their careers and grow their leadership skills well.
You said you wanted to bring about changes in companies, so what are your goals for achieving that this year?
I have a plan to prepare a book, Manual for the Fostering of Women. It will be a book for CEOs, executives, and HR managers of companies that want to develop female resources. This describes the reasons and methodologies for it. After working on a draft this year, I will conduct interviews with HR managers from various companies. I would like to publish a book that presents practical alternatives and work actively as a consultant for the fostering of women's talent after publication.
Many students seem to feel that there are still many obstacles to demonstrating their female leadership. So, what can we do to demonstrate leadership as students or to realize our own ambitions?
The title of my Ph.D. thesis was "Do women hesitate to become leaders?" According to my research, women have lower leadership self-efficacy and motivation to become leaders than men. However, the reason is not just because of gender; women have less experience in leadership than men. If you become confident in your leadership role, you will be able to carry out your work with sufficient leadership when you enter society later.
Lastly, please say a few words to Sookmyungians who always live with their own aspirations.
I would like to convey the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work supporting women's rights on the African continent. "The size of your dream must exceed your present ability. If your dream doesn't scare you, it's not a big enough dream." I believe that if you have a frighteningly big dream and make steady efforts to realize it, it will surely come true. I support the ambitions of our Sookmyungians!
- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (B.A.) Department of German Language & Culture (1997.02)
- Kookmin Univ.,(M.A.) Department of Business Administration (2017.02)
- Kookmin Univ.,(Ph.D.) Department of Business Administration (2020.08)
- Search Firm Career care, Senior Consultant
- Multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Korea, Team Leader
- (Current post) Adjunct professor, Kookmin University's Department of Business Administration / Graduate School of Business Administration
- (Current post) CEO, Navi & Partners