In offering advice to other women internally or externally who strive to become leaders, I suggest they first become really good at their craft; whether they are lawyers, salespeople, engineers or entry-level managers. Leading others will be much easier if you are knowledgeable and respected in your profession. As you move up the organizational ladder, become aware of which skills you are particularly good at and make the most of them. At the same time, be aware of areas where you need to improve and try to enhance these abilities. Most importantly, put the organization first instead of yourself. The payoff will include more personal success; you will focus on what a leader should do.
Other advice specifically for women who become leaders is to be confident in your own personal management style. Years ago when I first became a department manager, I tried to build consensus by soliciting input, often more so than my male counterparts, which made me question my own leadership. Later on, when I went to a seminar on women and leadership, one of the takeaways was that women leaders are more collaborative than their male counterparts. I began to realize that my personal leadership style is strong on developing team building.
All new managers need to remain focused on the big picture of where you want to take your organization, not just the daily demands of your position. It is very easy to get caught up just on what needs to get done in the short term, but you can never truly move forward unless you plan for the future. In doing this, it also is important to think out of the box to seek solutions for challenges that confront your organization. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
This leads to my final advice: accept the fact you will make mistakes along the way. Everyone does. Some people look at these failures as obstacles to success. A key to being successful in management is that when you make a mistake, pick yourself up, fix the problem, learn from the mistake, and move forward. Soon you will be running again.