5 Tips for Inspiring Inclusivity for Women Leaders
2020 has certainly been historic for many reasons, and when reflecting on all that has happened, I am thrilled by the apparent advancement of women in positions of influence and leadership. From the first female Vice President-elect of the United States to the re-election of Jacinda Arden as Prime Minister of New Zealand and Alyssa Nakken’s appointment as the first full-time female coach in MLB history. Even TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 includes 54 women — more women than ever before!
As pleased as I am to see women advance, our work is not quite finished. Today only 6.6 percent of all Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs. Looking ahead to the new year, I have been looking for ways to help boost the upward trajectory of inclusivity for women in the workplace, asking myself how I can use my role as a CEO to the benefit of my female peers. On a personal note, on the path to my leadership role in dentistry — an industry historically dominated by male leaders — I have had to push boundaries in order to establish my worth in the field.
Here are my five guiding principles for my fellow female leaders.
- Be Authentic. I am who I am. Laughing, cursing, leading. There is no one way to be a CEO. Do you wear suits and mandate meeting minutes? Great! Do walk around the conference room as you run a strategy session? Good for you. Do you take calls from your kids while analyzing spreadsheets? Who doesn’t?! Do you have a closed-door policy? An open one? Whatever it is, whoever you are, however you lead — own it!
- Use the Power of Vulnerability. Early on in my career, I told myself that I had to be strong and stoic in order to be respected as a leader. Thankfully, what I have found in leadership is the opposite — there is power in vulnerability. I believe that showing vulnerability is not only a sign of strength, it can be reassuring for employees to see its executive team acknowledge and share in their feelings. The key as a leader, is to embrace those moments of discomfort or joy, maintain equilibrium, and make tough calls when needed to keep things moving forward.
- Know Your Rules and Stick to Them. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a CEO. I remain dedicated to my business, but I have lines that I will not cross. For example, I don’t spend more than three nights away from home on a business trip. For others, it might mean making sure you are home to put the kids to bed, or never missing an anniversary. These rules have helped me support my family and my business without feeling like I am sacrificing my values.
- Empower Others. I believe that inclusivity leads to creativity, growth, and perspective. As a leader, we can cultivate environments that empower our colleagues by giving everyone a seat at the table. It really does “take a village”. Help to build a great one around you.
- Be a Resource, I didn’t get to where I am by myself — why should others have to? If I can help, guide, listen, or encourage, I will. Selfishly, I end up learning a lot as well!
Seeing the recent progress for women in leadership in such a trying year, I am more enthusiastic than ever about my role in pushing this further, starting here in my (virtual) CEO’s office — right where we, as women, belong.