You might have noticed an uptick in my thoughts around careers, leadership and purpose in the past few months. I’ll let you in on a little secret, this week, I wrapped up a six month women-only leadership program. And it was awesome.
I’ve been incredibly blessed in my short career to have been surrounded by awesome bosses, friends and mentors. However, around a year ago, I started noticing a gap. I needed, for lack of a better description, girl talk. Because let’s be honest, as much as I’d love to tell you that all is equal between boys and girls, it’s not. We are different creatures and to no surprise, sometimes we just need someone to share that with.
Enter Pathbuilders. I’ll save my elevator pitch on the program itself for another post, but after one such conversation on life and careers with a leader in my life and my need for something different, he asked me to check it out. After ten minutes on the phone, I was sold.
Six months and many, many mentor conversations later, here I am. So what did I learn? A lot.
My top 10 biggest takeaways:
- Bosses aren’t mind readers. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Be vocal and make your feelings and desires known.
- No one is more invested in your career than you. Invest in it now. Spend time making Rory Gilmore style pro-cons lists. Figure out what you want to accomplish tomorrow, next year and in 10 years from now. It doesn’t have to be right, but start thinking about it.
- Leaders aren’t made by being the loudest one in the room, leadership starts with listening.
- Be. Confident. Be confident in who you are, how you speak and how you present yourself. Only you own you. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.
- Money matters, job descriptions matter, clients matter, but culture trumps them all. At the end of the day, you want to love who you work with and where you spend your time. Money ain’t gonna buy you happiness after a 50+ hour work week.
- But…do know your worth. Network, get to know others in your field, learn your strengths and where you can improve. I love my job, but that does not mean I should ever stop keeping an eye out for what everyone around me is doing. It’s not only good for my position, but strengthens my value to my employer as well.
- Take your emotion out of the meeting. This is a tough one for me. I’m a pretty passionate person, and I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t cried at work before. However, this piece of advice is one I have certainly put into action. Make decisions and conversations around facts first, feelings second. Anyone can rebuttal the “I think” moment, they cannot do the same when you share results.
- No results + excuses = no results. Manage others’ expectations and then exceed them. Spend your time finding solutions, not telling everyone the problem.
- Give and ask for feedback, and do it often. We can’t expect to improve without open, honest dialogue. You should never wait until an annual review to find out if you are succeeding.
- Enjoy the ride. No one has it all figured out. We are all human. It’s OK to not know where you want to be in 10 years from now. The important part is actively working towards it.
I honestly wish every single women starting her career had the opportunity to experience such a program, but just like those post-college graduation realizations, the experiences count beyond the classroom. Go out there and do something about it.