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#LinkageWIL Inspiration Series: Maria Howard, Principal Consultant, On Pausing, Being Compassionate and Getting Curious

October 14, 2020 Deana LaFauci

During this unprecedented time in your career, have you taken a minute to reflect on everything that’s happening? Women in leadership are now dealing with a global crisis that impacts both the daily work routine and their day-to-day life. These sudden changes have made it harder to slow down and reflect on our work, ideas and actions. The stress and uncertainty of working in this climate have resulted in less time for proper decision-making.

Maria Howard is looking to change that. As Principal Consultant and Chief Revenue Officer at Linkage, Maria understands making crucial business decisions in the modern world—and the challenge of balancing it all in a tumultuous time.

From her involvement with the Women in Leadership Institute™ as a keynote speaker, to managing global business development at Linkage, she’s an expert in finding balance and making smart decisions—fast. She also has some helpful advice on how to pause and reflect at work:

“We can counteract the harmful ‘Inner Critic’ inside our heads by returning to our ‘Compassionate Center.’ Here’s how: PAUSE, then be compassionate and get curious. Reactivity results in repair work. When we can pause to be compassionate to ourselves and others, and ask a question to seek understanding, we can own our response and move forward.”

Why this is so important in 2020: Taking time this year to pause and think about our actions is more important than ever. Dealing with constant change is difficult, but pausing for a moment to offer a compassionate and thought-out response is crucial. This pause creates better choices and eliminates the habit of being reactive.


  1. Take a moment for reflection: Life is coming at us fast, and when we react in the moment, we do ourselves and others a disservice. Instead, we should try and take time to digest new information or synthesize new ideas. This way we can better process our work and our lives. By taking just a bit more time to examine our reactions, we avoid the type of reactions that hurt us and others around us.
  2. 2020 isn’t normal—and we need to acknowledge this: Research has shown that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected working women. In fact, one in four women may choose to opt out of advancement opportunities or the workforce entirely, according to new research from LeanIn. We need to acknowledge how difficult 2020 has been for ourselves and for other women leaders at our organizations. Ask yourself: What do I need right now to avoid burnout? What support do women leaders on my team need? By helping the people most affected by COVID, we create stronger businesses and make smarter decisions.
  3. Know that we are enough: Women leaders are tasked with constantly proving our value, while also balancing the need to take time to reflect and break from the daily grind. This often leads to not reaching out for help when we need it. Delegating and assigning work is often the best option for maintaining a healthy workload. The act of delegating to others isn’t simply a helpful time management tool for yourself—it also allows members of your team to take on more meaningful work. The “stretch assignments” you give to diverse members of your team have an impact on you—and your team members. Bonus tip: Remember to keep a critical focus on inclusion when you’re delegating high-profile work to your team. Ask yourself: Am I affording others opportunities across diverse lines, or am I simply rewarding others who look like me? Check your own unconscious bias and allow others the opportunities you would want in your own early career.

Looking for more from Maria Howard? Join Linkage at the Virtual Women in Leadership Institute on November 9–12, 2020. Choose the virtual learning experience that best fits your leadership goals: With an All-Access Pass, you will experience four days of immersive learning, and with a Virtual Keynotes and Virtual Keynotes PLUS Pass, you get a convenient, abbreviated conference experience.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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