Have you had women leaders who took you under your wing, guided you, sponsored you and helped lift you up? Have you had women leaders who have judged you, criticized you and held you back?
I have had both. Each leader taught me and taught me well. Some taught me what to do, and others taught me what not to do. Those that taught me what NOT to do created a culture of isolation, fear, and sometimes even unsafe.
How can we evolve our work cultures to be more supportive of women by women? How can we eliminate the cut-throat competitive tone so many find in the workspace? When I think back to my experiences, a few lessons stand out from others:
It’s not “or”, it’s “and”: Women leadership is not a competition. Imagine what work would be like if every woman looked out for just one other woman. We can lift each other up AND succeed. And… we will feel a whole lot better in the workforce too.
Teach your lessons: Let other women learn from the experiences you have had. We all have stories about being a woman leader that have shaped how we lead and how we work. Share yours!
Temper your envy: Green does not look good on anyone, and envy doesn’t help us all succeed. If you start to envy or get jealous, do some thought work: what’s making you think this? How can we turn those thoughts around and embrace other’s strengths without comparing or judging ourselves? You will be glad you did this work.
Surround yourself with diversity in all forms: lifting up others who have differing cultures and backgrounds will create a more inclusive leadership circle and change the leadership landscape for the better. Not only will you grow and evolve but so will your teams and your company.
I remember a woman leader I had in my early leadership days. She quietly guided me without usurping my autonomy. She debriefed events-gone-bad with me to learn from them, not beat myself up over it. She lifted me up and also gave me direct feedback. She was invested in my success. She was a shining example of what women-in-leadership could and should look like, and I am forever grateful for her presence in my career. And I have made it my goal to pay it forward to as many women leaders as I can.
How will you support other women leaders?
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