development, demonstrates why WE have higher
effectiveness in the workplace. The widely accepted
belief that males are more skilled at taking initiative and driving for results, as well as assuming that
women aren’t suitable or willing to take a leadership
opportunity, tend to be major barriers for women.
Needless to say, organizations should not be hesitant
to promote women into leadership roles. Likewise,
women should not be afraid to push themselves to
rise to the top, if they so choose.
Which brings up a point as to whether women
actually want these roles. While it is shown that
they are more effective than men in leadership roles,
inequality is not only due to organizations overlooking female talent. Women aren’t necessarily seeking these roles. In a poll conducted about women’s
stance on professional drive by Real Simple and sister
brand, TIME, almost 40% said enjoying their work
was a top priority over money and security and
significantly more important than having power and
influence. Additionally, a 2012 McKinsey study shows
that, in many cases, women feel the importance of
work-family balance outweighs taking leadership
opportunities in an organization. Until such time
organizations understand women's value, contributions, and effectiveness as leaders, and develop more
flexibility in support of a more balanced focus, we
will continue to see women leave qualified opportunities behind.
For women in existing management roles and
those seeking higher leadership opportunities, it is
important to understand the challenges they may face
and the rewards that will help them remain confident.
Transitioning to a manager during the early years of
my career was one of my most difficult experiences,
as I had to learn to wear many hats and acquiesce
to varying personalities and expectations. Over the
years, as my confidence grew, having an understanding of my strengths was a key factor in my progressive
One substantial growth experience began when
I took a unique opportunity at a start-up company,
Digital Risk. This leap of faith turned out to be one of
my best decisions. The company offered a ‘family-like’
culture where we were challenged to develop new
ideas, products, efficiencies, and structure with the
ultimate vision of “Making Mortgages Safe.” In fact, of
its 1,500+ employees, 60% are female, and one out of
two of the company’s leaders (Supervisor through Sr.
Director) are female. Out of its executive leadership,
43% are female. Compared to national statistics, Digi-
tal Risk maintains a much higher percentage of women
leaders, and I believe the company is a great model for
the success organizations will see when they embrace
promoting female leadership in the workplace.
While I have personally experienced great success
at Digital Risk, the journey has not by any means been
a perfect, vertical ascent. Many lessons were learned
during this time that have shaped the person I have
become. It is my hope that by sharing these lessons,
other women in leadership roles or those wanting to
climb the ladder will benefit from what I have learned.
1. Feeling a level of stress and discomfort is
actually good. It means you are being pushed
outside of your comfort zone, which means you
are continuing to learn and grow.
2. Through failure, comes success. The only way
to learn and grow is through making mistakes, taking risks, and sometimes failing. And that’s okay.
3. Work life balance is a myth. You are always
sacrificing one thing for the other. The key is pri-oritizing work and family matters so you have as
much of a blend of both as possible. Some days
and weeks may be more focused on work, while
others are more focused on family.
4. Identify your strengths and accept your
weaknesses. No one is strong in every facet of
a business or has every characteristic of being a
leader. Build a team and surround yourself with
those who fill in your gaps.
5. It is ok to say “No” both professionally and
personally. Accept and do things that fulfill you
most to maintain the highest level of engagement
in work and life.
6. Have a vision and take one step at a time to
fulfill it. Nothing is built and achieved overnight.
As long as there is progress, take those successes
to build upon.
Many of these lessons will be difficult to adhere
to throughout one’s career. Most women who aim
to take on leadership roles will need to overcome