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What is one behavior change that will make the biggest difference for you?
This was one of the questions posed by best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith at our Women in Leadership Institute™ held recently in Chicago. The question seemed small in comparison to the scope of the event and its intent—to empower women leaders worldwide to excel in the workforce—but, it really got me thinking.
Looking around the room, I realized that every professional woman, regardless of age, level, or industry is united by similar challenges—how we balance our personal and professional lives, our need to advocate for ourselves and our female colleagues and how our desire to be everything to everyone can sometimes lead to a path of unhealthy perfectionism.
In search of answers—and in hopes that the proverbial crystal ball would appear in front of me, I listened closely to Marshall’s words of advice—taking copious notes during his session. My learning continued over the next three days as I listened to stories of personal growth from some of the most successful leaders in the world—from Anne Mulcahy, who is credited with transforming Xerox, where she served as the first female CEO, to Keiko Fujimori, Peru’s youngest First Lady and Presidential hopeful for 2012.
In the end, I learned that each person’s leadership journey is unique to that individual. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.
We, as leaders make decisions based on our own experiences—not on a program, a book, or a coach. These experiences help shape who we are as individuals, both professionally and personally—and create our own leadership story. These experiences give us the confidence to excel in everything that we do, to learn what is important to us, and to discover what makes us happy.
Becoming a leader is on you. It is a personal journey of growth and discovery. It won’t happen overnight and it will include mistakes.
After attending the final session at the Institute, I went up to my room to pack my bags. Bits and pieces of the stories and advice from the speakers and attendees that I met filled me with both inspiration and trepidation. At that moment, I realized that the time is now. I can and need to take control of my own leadership journey.
I can and will trust my intuition and my ability to make a positive and lasting change as a leader in my company. A tall order, but one that I can accomplish one day at a time. In Marshall’s words: “Never promise to do everything. Leadership is not a popularity contest—take their feedback, listen, and try.”
This quote hangs above my desk and summarizes the next chapter in my leadership journey, which has already begun.
About the Author:
Sarah Breigle is the Director of Marketing at Linkage. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the marketing organization and plays an integral role in developing and executing the marketing strategy for Linkage’s products and professional services. She is an accomplished writer and editor and has held previous roles in advertising, public relations, and publishing.
Advancing Women Leaders Academy
A 9-module, on-site learning experience that seeks to equip women with actionable steps and practices to address the barriers that impede their advancement in the workplace, including the Inner Critic.
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