Power Up Female Executives: How To Be The Leader You Were Meant To Be

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to interview Anne Doyle, author of Powering Up: How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders. Anne  is a leadership and communication strategist, keynote speaker and media commentator. She brings three decades of trailblazing journalism, business and political credentials to her work. From TV newsrooms to sports locker rooms, from board rooms to congressional hallways, Anne Doyle has honored her skills in some of the toughest leadership laboratories and with sports, business and political leaders.

Here is what you need to know from the interview:

Believing that every woman is for herself is a losing strategy. A few lone women, no matter how exceptional they are, have little impact on the conversation of a nearly all-male group, let alone its decisions. It takes critical mass to shift group dynamic. We as women need to get beyond their differences and recognize how interdependent we are. Each generation of American women achievers in the workplace today has a unique role to play in determining how quickly women will begin shaping the nation and engaging in the world equally with men. As a cultural tribe, women will rise or remain stalled together and Anne Doyle will show us how exactly we can rise together.

We have become this nation of millions of high-achieving women. We are highly educated, half of the workforce and we are very professionally seasoned and skilled. But the piece that was missing is that the middle is getting bigger and bigger and we saw no change in terms of women making the leap from being a high achiever to being a leader.

There’s three important pieces to making the leap:

  1. We need leadership skills that are different from being just a high-achiever.
  2. We need to start supporting one another.
  3. We need strong powerful male allies.

An achiever is fundamental. You cannot be a leader until you have mastered a very strong foundation of essential skills of being a high achiever.

It’s all on the mindset. The difference between “it’s all about me” and mastering all of my skills in my career to making a switch to “it’s all about we”. You can’t be a leader if you don’t have people following you. But, you have to begin with where do you want to go? What’s your purpose? Why do you want to lead? It’s not about having a big job but having a big job with power is important because that gives you the ability to lead people.

How can women become the leaders that they are meant to be?

Women need courage. The biggest thing that holding women back right now is cultural headwind. Men have a cultural tale wind that carries them along whereas women are still pushing against their cultural headwind.

Men are naturally clannish. They come together and while doing it, they naturally share information. Women don’t do that at all. A woman will put her foot down on the head of the woman next to her and hold her down. They hold information and they don’t share it. We’re just learning this stuff now but we can learn it very fast if we talk to one another and if we share information.

What can we do?

You can tap into a network by sharing information with one another about business information and job opportunities. Start doing it consciously.

What does it mean for women to power up?

I came up with it because of that idea that we are this nation of millions of high achieving women but we haven’t seen any change in any significant numbers in cracking the top. Men still hold 80% of leadership and powerful positions in every single industry including government. So the next big piece is for women to figure out how to make that big leap to powering up from being a high achiever.

Power is the currency for making a difference. If you think you could put it to good use, then you need to go after power.

How do we get support and trust from the men we work with?

We know that we need men in the game with us. We need men stepping up as active advocates. Active advocates for encouragement and mentoring talented women. We need men to make sure when they’re looking at promoting people, they’re looking at a diverse group of men and women.

Women can start recruiting men to be their allies. Look for men who think highly of your work and ask them for help. Look for men who tend to either have high achieving wives, high achieving daughters, or they have fantastic mothers that they respected that were also professional women.  That’s where you going to find your allies.

There’s a lot of men out there who could definitely get in the game and be strong allies but we have to ask them and we have to inform them a little bit.

What do you wish you would have known as a professional woman just starting out in her career?

I wish that I had known to ask for more. I understood that I had to go after jobs and I understood that I had to negotiate but I never asked for enough. I never moved fast enough. I never bragged about myself enough. If you ever you think you are worth something and you are going to ask for it, double it. Men tend to exaggerate what they ask for and how they talk about their own skills. Women tend to minimize. I wish I had gone faster, dreamt bigger, and asked for more.

Classy Career Girl readers, which piece of Anne’s advice did you enjoy the most?

Hi, I'm Anna!

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