Girls On Fire! Finding Your Seat At The Table

Article contributed by Allison Ebner

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”

-Estee Lauder

In the late 20th century, women made more rapid career advances in the private work sector than they did in the political world. The gender wage gap narrowed, sex segregation in most professions greatly declined, and the percentage of women climbing the management ranks steadily rose. In 1980, there were no women in the top executive ranks of the Fortune 100 companies but by 2001, 11% of those corporate leaders were women. In fact today, a record number of 41 women are leading Fortune 500 companies.

While many women today aren’t necessarily aspiring to lead a Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 company, (and if you are, GO FOR IT!) they do want to be valued (and fairly compensated) for their skills and abilities and they want to be heard in their organizations and recognized as capable leaders at a strategic level. Sure, that sounds good, right? But what does it actually mean and more importantly, how do we get there? According to Kim Meninger, Founder of Executive Career Success and a leadership coach for women across New England, the recipe for successfully navigating your rise to the leadership ranks at any organization should include five key ingredients: confidence, relationships, communication, influence and visibility.

  • Confidence | Know your value, build up your expertise and don’t be afraid to speak up. Be a lifelong learner. Keep growing your skill set putting yourself outside of your comfort zone.
  • Relationships | You need to be a builder of key relationships with people above your level and below. And you need to find your good vibe tribe. People who know you, believe in you and will give you honest feedback and advice.
  • Communication | This will make or break you. Period. And it’s a delicate balance of emotional intelligence and persuasion. Knowing your audience helps.
  • Influence | With a little confidence and some good relationships, your effective communication abilities will allow you to exert some influence! Get the model we are building?!
  • Visibility | You really can’t be a shrinking violet while you’re climbing the career ladder. That doesn’t mean you have to be Miranda Priestly either. (Hint: Watch Devil Wears Prada) You have to learn how to advocate for yourself and shine. And I get it, that can be very uncomfortable.

If all of this sounds overwhelming and sort of scary, that’s OK! Take one bite at a time and follow the recipe for success listed above. And if you would like some support in this journey, EANE has teamed up with Kim to offer a 12-week virtual program called Advancing Women Leaders. Our first two sessions this Spring SOLD OUT in record time! Our next cohort is starting in September and we’d love for you to join us!