As the national leader of CBIZ Women’s Advantage, I am fortunate to cross paths with many great female professionals. Oftentimes, I am asked about my own journey up the career ladder, and I share my experiences to help empower other women. What I have come to find is that there is never one specific answer or one story to tell, as the needs of women vary depending on where they fall on the career spectrum. For example, young women beginning their careers want to know more personal stories – what you did, what you didn’t do, why – while career female leaders express their desire for sharing challenges and looking for solutions since it can be “lonely at the top.”
While there is no magic answer, story or advice to support women on their paths toward advancement and success, there are key qualities shared by most of the female leaders I have met. These traits stem from their experiences, struggles and successes, and we can all learn from them – companies included! Take note, young professionals, of these traits and adopt them as your own…they will serve you well!
1. Qualified beyond their title: There are various factors at play, but many women who hold leadership roles now rose through the ranks in a different culture. Ten, 15, 20 years ago people weren’t valuing women the way we are today. There wasn’t the awareness and access to the resources that are available today – mentors, sponsors, programs, classes. As a result, women had to work harder, and longer, to get to where they are. For today’s female professional, I urge you to utilize all the tools at your disposal and do your part to further equality in your workplace.
2. Emotionally intelligent: These women read between the lines and pick up on subtle cues, which they then apply to the advancement of their careers. They approach things differently and always seem to be poised. By definition, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Take a page out of their book and pull from your own emotional intelligence.
3. Universally passionate: They have strong feelings and drive, not just about their work, but all aspects of their lives. Possessing this trait allows them to bring something extra, which often energizes others around them, as well as themselves. Find what you’re passionate about and pursue it.
4. Committed: Women in leadership roles are many times frustrated and overworked, but they stay committed to their goals and their company’s mission and core values, regardless of what is thrown their way. Mimic their work ethic in your own professional pursuits.
These are just a few traits I’ve observed through my relationships with female leaders and my work with CBIZ Women’s Advantage. Companies would be wise to identify, develop and advance women in their organization who possess these qualities – your organization will be better and more successful as a result!