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Who’s the Boss? 5 Leadership Strategies Every Women Should Know

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Not everyone wants to be the boss. Just ask your coworkers. The economic, status and access rewards that accompany positions in top management are not enough to attract every talented, crush-it over achiever. This is especially true for millennial women, ages 18 to 32, entering the workforce during the past decade. Being leader of the pack may be on their bucket list but never checked off. Often what is possible is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is expected to be on the short list, a rising star, or even a future SheEO at a Fortune 500 company.

The continuous demands of work and family are nothing new to women. With not enough time in the day already, we still manage to locate and tap into reserves for the benefit of our team, our workplace, and even our bosses. The iconic image of Wonder Woman with a dashing red cape is not far off from our superhuman powers and what any woman can get done in the average day. Still, our rise to the top may get derailed from this thing called life, parental and family responsibilities that compete for our attention, leaving very little flexibility to climb the corporate ladder after hours. 

Ultimately the decision to walk away from advancement shows up in the pocketbook as I can attest. Those early years of staying home to raise my kids and help take care of my father and loved ones were some of the best memories of my life. I wouldn’t have traded being the Chief Everything Officer for the world. However, it meant being accessible after school, during summer and holiday vacations, and on call for anything. Being the boss was the furthest thing in mind then — a complete opposite to my career today as CEO of SheCapital.  

With the rise of female millennials in the workforce, things have not changed all that much. According to a recent study by Pew Research Center on pay gap and women, a whopping 34 percent of the 810 millennials polled state they are not interested in becoming a boss or top manager citing responsibilities of parenthood and family as concerns. Furthermore, approximately four-in-ten women with children have reduced their hours at work in order to care for a child or family member while 13% of mothers have turned down a promotion in order to care for a family member. See 5 Statistics Every Woman Must Know

Many women find themselves in this same predicament, however, they need not leave money on the table because of position alone. As a 48 year-old gen x female, Chief Everything Officer, and SheEO, I have come to discover five important strategies to help other female professionals wanting to aspire to future positions of leadership in their careers today:

  1. Keep track of your successes. Be able to prove both quantitative and qualitative how you affected revenue either by increasing sales or decreasing costs. Document and measure, be able to offer supporting materials such as CRM reports, invoices, spreadsheets, and personal letters, basically anything that supports your position.
  2. Introduce a new initiative. Try something new, brainstorm new ideas for you and your organization to increase sales, create efficiency, improve customer relations, tap into new market segments, streamline operations, and improve morale and retention. Create a proposal that’s detailed and compelling. Show costs, estimates, and budget. Include a list of assumptions and projections. Show how it’s going to get done from conception to execution to evaluation.
  3. Pump up the skill set. Take a relevant class, training, or workshop outside the office. Consider earning additional certifications and degrees and going back to school for your MBA or advanced degree. See Baby I’m Worth It – 10 Essential Tips to Pay for Grad Schoool Collaborate with student colleagues and use your company for academic group projects and challenges in class. Share these projects with coworkers and your boss and bring them back to the office for implementation.
  4. Step up to the plate. Take the stretch assignment nobody wants to touch. Demonstrate a can-do attitude by volunteering for special projects even if you are not sure how to do it and don’t worry if you don’t have the confidence to get it done initially. Become solution-oriented and tap into your networks, resources, and mentors for their support. Ask for help and ideas and find creative ways to reward (free food usually works) your team.  
  5. Negotiate for a raise. But first, show the company you are being proactive in your own financial well-being, starting with the company sponsored retirement plan at work such as a 401(k). Opt in and start making regular contributions before salary negotiations and definitely take advantage of the employer match if available. Begin to prepare the basis for the negotiation discussion with the items previously mentioned in this post: material evidence of success, new initiatives and ideas for growth, enhanced skills, and a can-do attitude.
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