Cultivating The Next Generation Of Female Leaders

March 24, 2017

Fortune recently reported the share of Fortune 500 chief executives who are female remains very small, reaching a record 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

That’s right, a record. A record made up of about 30 individuals.

We’ve got a lot of work to do…

For decades, women have been fighting for a seat in the boardroom. And while we’ve made some advances, there is still a long way to go. How do we get there? What can we do? The challenge can feel insurmountable at times, but there is one thing we can all do right now as women: Be a great leader and help cultivate the next generation.

So, my lady friends, if you’re looking to build that leader who lives inside you, I’ve got some suggestions below. And to those who have already nailed it, please share your insights. Because a good leader never stops growing.

Leadership happens at all levels. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or running the show – your title doesn’t deem you a leader. It’s qualities like intuition, integrity, passion and persistence that do.

Be assertive. Society tells us assertiveness in a woman is a bad trait. I’m here to tell you that’s false. Being assertive means you’re confident. It means you’re going after something you want. It means you’ll fight for something you believe. Try it – you’ll find it empowering.

Grab a seat at the table. I don’t care if it was offered to you or not. Make yourself indispensable, assert your opinions and thoughts into the conversation or situation, seize opportunities when they arise and remember to invite other women to take a seat next to you.

Believe in yourself. Confidence, oh confidence, wherefore art thou confidence? I firmly believe confidence is the biggest issue women struggle with in life. And the worst part is: It’s fleeting. One moment it’s there, and the next it disappears and you have to figure out how to get it back. Confidence is rooted in knowledge and information, so work hard to get smart on topics and issues that matter, then believe in yourself as you tackle the world with everything you know.

Find your voice and use it. Girl, you have a lot to say. I know you do. You know you do. Please speak up. We need more women voices in the world. The experiences and insights you’ve formed are so valuable and they need to be heard loud and clear.

Don’t just lean in, lean on. I count myself lucky to have so many girl crushes in my professional life. Some I know personally, others I follow online. But the advice and insights they impart are invaluable. I take what I learn and observe from them to help me grow personally and professionally…you should, too.

And last but not least:

Be a role model. Be someone others want to emulate. And if you’ve paved a path, share it with those who are just starting to walk down theirs.