10 Life Lessons from Leading Women
Feb. 19 2015, Published 2:30 a.m. ET
To become part of the “women-helping-women” movement that’s sweeping the nation, and indeed the world, we first must access our personal power. This means we need to master our external environment (often, the workplace), tackle our own internal barriers, and learn how best to connect with other women.
Here, excerpted from Leading Women, are 10 actions you can take right now. Chapter title and the author of each chapter are listed below each tip.
1. Learn how to manage interruptions.
Men tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men. As a result, women often don’t get their thoughts, ideas, and opinions heard. This can harm impact and credibility in the workplace. Develop a phrase, such as, “I’m not quite done yet,” or, “Hold that thought,” to help you manage these interruptions.
—“Power Up! Three Ways to Build Credibility and Make Yourself Heard” by Claire Damken Brown, PhD
2. Leverage your feminine skills.
As the world grows ever more complex and connected, there is a growing need for “feminine” skills, such as relational intelligence, emotional intelligence, inclusion, and empathy. Be clear about the skills you have to offer. Embrace them. They define a new kind of leadership, a more collaborative, interactive leadership.
—“Soft Is the New Hard: The Hidden Power of Feminine Skills” by Birute Regine, EdD
3. Practice self-compassion.
Ask yourself daily, What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? Sometimes it means forgiving yourself for mistakes or simply lightening up on yourself; other times it means taking a walk or a hot bath or calling a good friend. When you love and take care of yourself, you will find it inevitably serves everyone.
—“Do You Need a Reason to Love?” by Marci Shimoff
4. Strive to carry yourself with poise.
Poise is usually defined as dignity, ease of manner, or composure. It also reflects wisdom, an acceptance that things do not happen overnight and that there are certain things we cannot transform. The knowledge that life is not always fair and it’s nobody’s fault. Poise is an understanding that putting one foot in front of the other is part of the power we have as human beings, as women.
—“Poise, The Final Ingredient” by Linda Rendleman
5. Realize that who you are is different from what you can accomplish.
Many of today’s women feel we must do something “amazing” before we die, but “amazing” is never defined. As a result, we are in constant pursuit, wandering from job to job, goal to goal, and relationship to relationship. Ask yourself: Who am I beyond my skills and knowledge? If I did not have to be great, what path would I take? What is my highest potential?
—“The Burden of Greatness” by Marcia Reynolds, PsyD
6. Find a healthy balance between feminism and narcissism.
True beauty is a combination of what’s inside and what’s outside. We need to connect the two. Don’t waste time trying to stop the inevitable. Our clocks tick on no matter what we do — or do not do — to our faces and bodies. Finally, stop judging yourself regarding your appearance. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself like you would a good friend.
—“The New Beauty Paradox” by Vivian Diller, PhD, with Michele Willens
7. Brand your daughter with words of strength.
Do you want to brand your daughter as a princess waiting to be rescued or do you want to brand her as a hard worker, or good problem solver, or smart, or willing to try new things? Take every opportunity you can to notice, to praise, and to strengthen those genuine skills and talents you want to foster. She will believe you and these traits will grow.
—“Seven Keys to Unlocking Female Leadership” by Janet Rose Wojtalik, EdD
8. Don’t let the divisive label of “feminism” stop you from supporting women’s equality.
There are steps we can take to create a world where women have equal opportunities and rights and live in a world free from violence and oppression. Here are three ideas: 1. Become more aware of legislation and how it affects women. 2. Champion women and girls in your company, profession, and community. 3. Think globally. Stand up for women who have few rights and live under oppressive conditions in other parts of the world.
— “You Don’t Have to Be a Feminist to Support Women’s Rights” by Cheryl Benton
9. Avoid philanthropy based on handouts.
Instead, support efforts that give women information and teach them how to use it. This is the approach taken by women like Wallis Annenberg, who helps fund community education and innovative projects; Melinda Gates, cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which facilitates people’s access to information; and Oprah Winfrey, a vocal and active supporter of education and teachers.
—“Information: The Best Form of Philanthropy” by Shirley Osborne
10. Cherish the hard times.
Often, they, not the good times, lead to your purpose, passion, and life’s work. Part of this is learning how to see obstacles as stepping stones. Go over them, under them, or through them, but don’t let them knock you down. They are an important part of your legacy and help you become not just a survivor but a sur-thriver.
—“Live Your Legacy: Leadership, Philanthropy, and Transformation” by Aurea McGarry
Excerpted from Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, ), by Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD. Leading Women is available wherever books are sold.