Last week I had the opportunity to hear Sheryl Sandberg speak at the Economic Club of Chicago luncheon. Sheryl’s book, Lean In has received mixed reviews and a fair amount of criticism. After reading the book, I felt both inspired and validated. Sheryl shares her struggles and triumphs of her meteoric climb to COO of Facebook. As I look back over my career, I can relate to her experience of being the only women leader in the room. Navigating the corporate environment and learning the “unwritten rules” was a new skill for me (one that is not taught in MBA schools). I found myself competing with my male counterparts to be heard. I began to change my leadership style so that I could “fit in” and be more like my peers (most of whom were men). Instead of being collaborative, intuitive, and relational, I resorted to being directive, which made me feel inauthentic. Unfortunately, as a result of my trying to be like my peers, I felt inauthentic.
I shared my experiences with my executive coach. Her response to me was unforgettable and that conversation has been one of the most defining moments in my career. She looked me square in the eye and said, “Angela, what are you doing? Why are you trying so hard be someone you are not? You were given unique gifts and passions to serve a purpose. You rob the world of your brilliance when you compare yourself to others or when you try to be like someone you were never created to be! You can’t stand out and shine when you trying to be someone else. You are paving the way for other women leaders who will follow in your footsteps. You have a voice and you matter.” After that conversation, I learned how to align my heart with my smarts, lead from a place of authenticity, discover how to better navigate the corporate environment and build strategic alliances to further my career. Now, I am passionate about helping other women shine at work and lead from a place of authenticity.
While Sheryl’s Sandberg’s climb to the C-Suite may not be the reality for most woman leaders, I commend her for sharing her experience and starting the provocative dialogue that has been bubbling under the surface for decades. For those of us in leadership positions, we must learn to “lean in” today so that we can pave the way for the little girls who will be our CEO’s tomorrow.
With love & wonder,
Question to Ponder: What obstacle have you overcome during your leadership journey? What factors would you attribute to your success? I would love to hear your story. Feel free to share them on The Wonder Loft Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wonder-Loft-LLC/115792968435685 or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Angela Joyner is a leadership expert, coach and national speaker. She founded The Wonder Loft, LLC coaching practice for women. Angela is devoted to teaching women around the world how to authentically navigate the corporate environment, lead with confidence and get promoted at work. Through her private coaching program, workshops, and signature talks, Angela shows her clients how to create a powerful leadership brand and an abundant life they love.