Jenny Poon
Mar 23 · 5 min read

“Power is not given to you. You have to take it.” -Beyonce

The topic of women in leadership has never trended harder in human history. With the digital age came an influx of information that started to shed light on major cultural problems. Data is widely spread and it has become household knowledge that the dream of equality isn’t nearly as close as we hoped. It’s opened the door for new conversations.

You can find several articles that tackle gender inequality of leadership positions in business. This article is different. Instead, I’m going to focus on the lessons women already in leadership have provided and can provide to other women who are just starting their career. Let’s leverage everything we have today to accelerate what we want to accomplish as women in business.

These are the five must-know lessons from women in leadership about becoming a leader.

Master Your Internal Dialogue — be true to yourself as you would with a friend

Arianna Huffington is one of the founders of The Huffington Post, which sold to AOL in 2011 for $315 million dollars.

During her rise to the top, she discovered a major difference between herself and her male counterparts. This difference can be seen in researched evidence that women may internalize stress more than men.

“Women in stressful jobs have a 40 percent greater risk of heart disease, and a 60 percent greater risk of diabetes. We internalize stress. We need to change that.

We need to stop listening to that voice that I call the obnoxious roommate in our head, that judges us and doesn’t think we’re doing everything perfectly, so that we can be a little easier on ourselves. That will help us deal with stress better.” (Source)

How can women, and men, avoid causing themselves stress from the internal dialogue that runs through their mind?

By asking themselves one question: Would I talk to my friend the way that I talk to myself?

As Arianna points out, our internal dialogue can be detrimental to our personal health and professional development. Elevate yourself, don’t bully yourself.

You can’t be what you can’t see — seek out the female leaders in your community

Dona Sarkar is the Head of the Windows Insider Program. She is one of the most influential members of the Windows team, yet she never imagined she’d be able to reach such a massive milestone in her career.

“When I was growing up in Detroit, if someone had told me, ‘Hey Dona, you’re going to be making a really, really great salary working at Microsoft as a very senior person,’ I would have just hysterically laughed.” (Source)

Dona attributes laughing at the thought of such success to her lack of female mentorship. When she was growing up, she didn’t see any women in high leadership positions and so, she didn’t imagine that she had the potential within herself to pull it off.

Suelin Chen, a PhD graduate from MIT in Materials Science and Engineering and former executive at the Lab@Hardvard says, “You have to see it to be it.”

Where can you see more women in leadership positions?

-Online Interviews (Youtube Videos, Podcasts, etc.)

-Conferences and Meetups (elevate network, girls in tech, )

-Mentorship Programs (For example, Million Women Mentors or Elpha via Y-Combinator)

Self Promotion Is Not Only Okay, It’ll Elevate You — promote your skillset

Natalia Ronceria Ceballos is the founder and CEO at LA NRC. She is an advocate for women proudly promoting their skill sets.

“Don’t be afraid to ask the big asks!! We still so often undervalue ourselves in negotiations and end up making less than our counterparts doing the same level of work.”

Self promotion isn’t a dirty phrase. It’s the opportunity to showcase the skillset that our commitment has chiseled from stone.

How can women promote themselves without feeling over-promotional?

-Talk about achievements through recognizable metrics — You’ve achieved it, it’s okay to talk about it

-Create a specific goal to speak at X amount of conferences and teach your skillset in the upcoming year

  • Write about achievements on social platforms like Medium and Quora

“Don’t be afraid to ask the big asks!! We still so often undervalue ourselves in negotiations and end up making less than our counterparts doing the same level of work.” —Natalia Ronceria Ceballos

Don’t Buy Into The Hustle — figure out work/life schedule that works best for you

The idea of hustle became a trending topic in the last few years, highlighting the need to work 12+ hour days in the name of your passion. In hindsight, the business world has come to see the lack of scalability of this mindset.

“The research is clear: beyond about 40–50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative,” Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook Co-Founder (source).

Instead of buying into the hustle, what if we bought into freedom?

The hustle isn’t defined by 12+ hour days, it’s defined by choosing the schedule that allows you to be a savvy business women while maintaining relationships, personal development and health (and the same goes for men).

This schedule maintains long term freedom and the ability to adapt to it changing at any moment is where leaders rise. Hustling for harmony between your schedule and the spontaneity of life is the new definition of “the grind”.

As Natalia Ronceria Ceballos says, “And forget about work/life balance, I’ve always thought that was deceiving, not everything will get equal shares of your time, talent, & treasure always (family, work, etc) — so strive for harmony, knowing sometimes family will need more of you, sometimes work will, and that is OK 🤗❤️”

To figure out your ideal schedule ask yourself: what does my ideal day look like and how do I start to add each in each those elements?

Keep your sights set on the future — stay on top of trends, never stop learning

The most successful people in the world, such as Warren Buffett, focus on the future of culture and society. They capitalize off of trends and technology shifts by keeping their eyes on the upcoming future.

Michelle Phan, YouTube creator and entrepreneur, saw the future of YouTube when the platform was in its infant stage. She talks about this foresight in Geek Girl Rising.

“I knew that the younger generation would see YouTube as the new TV. They [would] come across my channel and … see a library of hundreds of videos. They’re going to want to watch it.”

Her videos now have over a billion views, she has launched multiple product lines, and is now a published author. Currently, she is still focused on the future of the content industry and how she can be on the brink of the attention economy as technology continues to change social behavior.

“If you want to be a great creator, you have to be your own number one fan first. You have to love what you’re doing. Ten years ago I saw a glimpse of what I wanted to be the future of digital content. If I wanted that to come true, I had to manifest it myself by also making it myself.”

What is happening in your industry right now and what are the options for what comes of it in the future?

The digital revolution has opened the door to a conversation regarding equality. Now, it’s time to walk through the door and change the conversation.

Follow me on twitter for more discussions twitter.com/poondingo

#yesphx

Stories, thoughts, and news from the Greater Phoenix startup and entrepreneurial community.

Jenny Poon

Written by

CO+HOOTS Coworking founder, ranked No.4 coworking space in USA. Entrepreneur, designer, journalist. Phoenix Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year 2016.

#yesphx

#yesphx

Stories, thoughts, and news from the Greater Phoenix startup and entrepreneurial community.

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