Top 13 Tips for Women Aspiring to Hold Leadership Positions

 Because women have been active and significant contributors to the workforce, but we don’t have the same access or opportunities that men have.

Why You Need To Do Better

Studies prove time and time again that when women lead, businesses and economies thrive. The Atlantic reported on several studies that show what happens when women lead companies. A few of the takeaways were:

  • Women who are already high performers have better chances of up-leveling within a company that has a woman as a leader.
  • Firms with more women in positions of leadership outperform firms that have fewer women in leadership.
  • The higher the share of women on corporate boards, the more likely that company is to hire more women executives.
  • When a company has more female managers, the more likely that newly created jobs will be filled by women.

This all sounds great, but the fact of the matter is, the women who benefit the most are women who are already high performers. Women who aren’t very good at their job may actually have worse odds of moving up when they work under female leadership.

I’m not exactly mad at this. I think it reinforces something that I’ve always thought anyway — not to expect fairness and opportunity to fall into your lap just because you’re a woman. We still have to earn our spot and earn our keep just like every other gender, race, ethnicity, etc. should have to. systems will change faster if the people who were oppressed by them lead the change. The more women in positions of leadership, the more access women not already in leadership will have. The more access we have, the more likely we are to close the leadership gap.

This is not to say that things do not need to change on a structural, more systemic level (that built-in bias is real!). My point is that while systems are being improved (if they even really are), we should be doing all that we can to position our own selves for what we want.

Position Yourself as a Leader

An important part of being a leader is to dedicate yourself to constant and never-ending improvement. Even before you become a leader on paper, you can start practicing your leader lifestyle.

“Don’t just dress for the job you want, ACT like you’re already in it!”

Regardless of built-in gender biases, the only real way to position yourself as a leader is to work smart and work hard as if you already were one. Sometimes you have to do more. Sometimes you have to do less. Today we’re going to talk about some things…some habits you need to do less of. Stop doing one or all of these and watch as your positioning changes.

*This list was generated and inspired by the dozens of women leaders in my network that answered my question: “What’s something(s) women should stop doing if they want to move up into leadership positions?”

  1. STOP using waffly language. Talking, talking, talking, and never really saying anything. Be direct!
  2. STOP apologizing for being assertive. Own what you’re saying/doing.
  3. STOP thinking you have to be loyal to one employer. To get ahead, don’t be afraid to move on.
  4. STOP being unfriendly. You don’t have to be fake to be friendly and you don’t have to do “too much” to be nice.
  5. STOP letting the avoidance of failure lead you. Be led by your vision and let everything else fall away.
  6. STOP tolerating things that go against your goals and values. It’s literally holding you back.
  7. STOP limiting yourself. You are capable of so much more! Believe in yourself like Santa believed in Rudolf.
  8. STOP keeping your mouth shut and minding your business. Speak up and speak loudly so people know where you stand. See number 6.
  9. STOP keeping your successes a secret. Each one teach one and lift as you climb.
  10. STOP oversharing. If you want to “win” you gotta stop showing all your cards.
  11. STOP doubting and second-guessing yourself. Learn to decide and be at peace with your decisions.
  12. STOP downplaying yourself. You don’t need to dim your light. Ever.
  13. STOP talking yourself out of opportunities. See numbers 3, 5, 7, 11, and 12.

Do This

Pick one of the habits from the list of thirteen and challenge yourself to stop doing it for 30-days.

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Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.