Women in the workplace have been a recent focus in the media, bringing to light broadscale inequities and archaic (and often dangerous) practices and cultures that need to shift.
Change hardly ever occurs without challenges—and women are facing them head-on in order to ensure progress. Given this, I felt it was important to connect with these events by sharing four influential contributions from women in leadership that have greatly impacted my life.
#1) “What Kind of Employee Do You Want to Be?”
In the early stages of my career, a female mentor asked me this question. More specifically, she asked me if I wanted to be the type of employee who:
•Goes with the flow;
•Challenges authority; or
•Is a combination of the two?
Understanding the answer dictates the way you interact, carry yourself, and lead. In thinking about her question, I decided then that I wanted to be the person who challenges, pushes, and creates change. Over time, I began to understand that the answer to this question is fluid and that positions may need to be tailored depending on a specific circumstance.
And so, the usefulness of this question goes well beyond the immediate answer. It helps you choose your path while concurrently understanding its potential impact on your success and allowing you to stay true to yourself.
#2) “You Gotta Cop an Attitude”
I can remember instances at the beginning of my career in which I began to take on more responsibility by handling tasks that I wasn’t sure I was qualified for. A female manager of mine significantly shifted my viewpoint by sharing her version of ‘Fake it ‘till you make it.’
This simple trick allowed me to project confidence as I was growingthe confidence I needed! I began to understand that if you want to be treated like a leader, you have to act like one (whether you initially believe you are one or not!).
#3) “You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation”
About 15 years into my career, an executive at my company reframed my apologetic tendencies. Many women tend to give excuses or reasons for the things that they do or need. For example, explaining why they need to leave early, etc.
Her point was that detail is not always necessary; and it is up to you whether certain information is important to articulate. When your team and colleagues trust you, the details won’t matter—all that matters is that you get the job done.
#4) “When It’s a Choice Between Your Job and Your Family, There Is No Choice”
This piece of advice became especially relevant when I became a parent. You cannot drop the ball at home, with your kids, your spouse, or partner. The work will always be there tomorrow, and it’s important to use your judgment with this balance in mind.
When my son was a baby, I would leave work at lunch to take him to a Mommy & Me class. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to organize my schedule in a way that allowed me to do this activity with him. He’s 10 years old now; and I am thankful I prioritized time with him.
Photo Credit: Danny Weiss Studio