If you made it to the top of the career ladder and you’re more nervous than excited, you’re not alone. There is a clear discrepancy between the number of women in the workforce and the number of female leaders, and the few women who manage to shatter the glass ceiling find it difficult to trust their qualifications and business instincts. To help you combat your self-doubt, we compiled a few tips from successful female leaders that will make you more confident in your leadership.
Redefine success. “The wisest advice I ever got was to build my career on what I want, not what others want for me.”- Mary Kinney, Former Executive Vice President and COO of Ginnie Mae
Given that women make up only 25 percent of executive positions in the professional workforce, female leaders already stray from the status quo. In that case, why follow the rules? Some of the best leaders chose to adhere to their own definition of success. Instead of homing in on accumulating money and power, good leaders set personal goals based on their passions. And consider their personal and professional growth as a major part of being successful.
Setting different goals and benchmarks for success can also benefit your organization. Creativity is considered one of the most important leadership qualities, but it is also a quality that employees and new hires lack most. Creative thinking and innovation allow organizations to remain competitive in the face of industry changes. Additionally, leaders that challenge the status can expand team perspective by inspiring other employees to think of different ways to achieve goals. So, keep thinking outside of the box and build your career on your own terms, it will probably benefit your team in the long run.
Surround yourself with good people. “Don’t second guess yourself. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and bring out the best in you”- Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of EventBrite
As the old saying goes, it takes a village. As a leader, you won’t accomplish anything without the support and assistance of others, so it’s important that you build a great team within your organization. You will want to surround yourself with people who have skills and opinions that differ from your own. Diversity in opinion will lead to better outcomes and will give you more to work with as a leader.
But as a woman, there will be plenty of people who will be skeptical of your ability to lead projects and manage a team, in which case it is important to create as many pillars of support as you can outside of the workplace. These support systems, whether they are friends, family or a mentor, will support you personally and professionally even when you feel like everyone else is rooting for you to fail.
Make time for self-improvement. “As a leader, you will not grow and develop without developing a keen sense of self-awareness; introspection is key.” – Rebecca Jacoby, Senior VP and CIO at Cisco
Just because you made it to the top of the ladder, doesn’t mean you don’t have any room to grow. You can’t lead a team to success if you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. A lack of introspection can cause leaders to make poor decisions on behalf of the organization and, while you may think that a leader should have all the answers, being honest about your weaknesses will increase your credibility among your peers.
Investing in your career goes beyond the office; it also requires self-care. As a leader, you will be under a lot of pressure and the subject of scrutiny. To combat that, you have to be kind to yourself first. “I wish I could go back and tell my much younger self, ‘Arianna, your performance will actually improve if you can commit to not only working hard, but also unplugging, recharging, and renewing yourself,” Huffington Post President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington said in an interview. “That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion.” So take some time to treat yourself and stay healthy. Remember, an investment in your personal and professional development is also an investment in your team and your career.