Updated: Dec 30, 2020
You don’t have to hide your struggle from me, lady. I know what you’re going through. You’re constantly looking for new ways to stand out in your organization, but you feel stuck. You want to move up in your career, but don’t know what steps to take to advance. You’re constantly looking for new initiatives to tackle, and yet, you’re still sitting in a conference room (Or Zoom meeting these days) listening to someone who doesn’t do half of what you do or get the results that you get. You’re thinking “I’ve been working all this time on these projects and yet the recognition still isn’t there? When is it going to be my time?” I. Get. It.
I’ve been working in the corporate world for over twenty years. I’ve executed, planned, and provided guidance on a plethora of multi-million dollar projects, programs, and systems for my organization. And like you, I wanted to know when it was going to be my time to be a leader. I had ideas. I saw things from different perspectives. I was driven and an implementer. And yet, there was a myriad of times where I didn’t feel empowered by my organization because I didn’t get THAT leadership role. It was frustrating and discouraging in my career path, but as I took time to meditate, I found out the true secret to leadership: It’s not a role. It’s a responsibility.
You may not have a vocational role or title as THE leader in your organization, but you can be A leader because leadership is influence.
Mentoring is about leadership. Parenting is about leadership; as is being a wife, a friend, a best friend, or a sister. Breaking bad habits and time management is about leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Because guess what, lady? No one is going to come into your life and help you manage your time and break destructive, underproductive habits holding you back from your God-given potential.
“Tamara, I hear you, but what can I do?”
The course and quality of your life will be determined by you leading it there. This is where the majority of corporate and professional women misunderstand where to start: You start with you. You don’t practice leadership with your subordinates or people assigned to you. You start by practicing on you. And if you will listen to you, you’ll have no problem convincing someone else to listen to you.
Now, let’s get to it and determine what you need to be the leader others follow, regardless of the position or title you have.
1. Be The Woman That Cares About People
Leading without authority can feel difficult and demoralizing simply because you feel your efforts aren’t being recognized. But, others can’t miss how you care for people. It’s not about your agenda, but about bettering others and your organization without being told to do so.
What do you see that needs to get done? What problems need solutions? You have the answers, lady! YOU have to be the one to take the initiative without being asked to do so. By simply taking a genuine interest in people and helping them, even when it’s not required of you, will speak volumes on your character. Be this woman, and as a result, people will respect you and see you as a leader, regardless of your title or position.
2. Be The Woman That Masters Her Craft
When you find yourself in a context that you haven’t created, learning and applying what you’ve learned is key. Cultivating and operating with a spirit of excellence sets you apart from those in your field. Doing so requires you to constantly improve your skill sets and requires you to develop and execute processes that not only will improve your organization, but it will improve your quality of life. Think about it: If your children (Or nieces and nephews) ask you to help them with a project, will you turn them away because you’re not a subject matter expert in that area? No. You’re going to do your research, do your reading, and do the best you can to help them create an amazing end product. This is the same that’s required of you in the corporate world and your life. By mastering your craft, you will be the go-to woman that people want to follow.
3. Be The Woman That Does What She Says She’ll Do
Before you check this off your list, consider this. You probably follow some very inspiring women on social media (I’ve got Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama on my list). As inspiring as those women may be, you follow them because you trust their words. And you trust their words because they’re backed by their actions. You can trust that when they say they’re going to do something, they execute. The same is required of you. You can’t influence if you don’t have the trust of those you’re trying to influence. Building this trust requires you to execute small minute actions as if they’re enormous tasks, at least until you get assigned those critical tasks. If you make a commitment, you need to keep it - even if it requires a little more time, energy, or resources to do so. Be the woman that people can trust, and you’ll be the woman others follow.
Notice how these points all have one key factor: Being. It’s not about doing; it’s about being. Being a leader is a responsibility that not everyone can undertake. Some women want the title, exaltation, prestige, and recognition, but not the labor nor the sacrifice. You want to be a leader? Then you have to boss up and effectively lead yourself FIRST. You have to lead yourself with your spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, financial, and vocational health. You. But don’t think you're alone. There is a community of women that are just like you, facing the difficulties that you do, wanting to go to the next level in their careers and their lives. And I want you to be a part of that community. Join us in The Conversation where we speak and empower each other. In this safe space, we speak on the realities of being a corporate professional woman wanting to not just survive but to thrive in corporate life from a wholistic perspective. Click here to reserve your seat for The Conversation on October 15th, 2020. But act fast, lady. Seats are limited.