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An Example to Follow

I have been fortunate throughout my life to have been in the company of many extraordinary female leaders.

As a teen, I watched my stepmother leave her stable government job to open an environmental engineering company that she led for 31 years. I’ve witnessed my best friend take a few ideas and grow them into flourishing and sustainable organizations. Two longtime friends who I bonded with as our kids went from babies to teens and adults who have created history: One by being elected governor of our state; the other by becoming a leading expert on legal ethics and an author on gender bias of women, publicly considered but not appointed to the Supreme Court.

My favorite thing about the inspirational female leaders I know is to watch them become who they are meant to be. Seeing them step into roles with grace, authenticity, determination and humility has been awe inspiring. No matter what their background, I’ve witnessed them rise to the occasion in the face of adversity while never wavering in their commitment to doing what was right.

When I take a step back and look at the totality of their success as leaders, a few traits rise to the surface.

Work Ethic. None of the women I admire have expected a free pass. Each of them became experts in their areas by putting their head down and doing the work. None of them delegates work they wouldn’t do or haven’t done.

Solutions Oriented. Rather than bemoaning the issues at hand, the women I admire roll up their sleeves, think innovatively, bring people together and find a path forward. The only purpose the past serves is to help them ensure mistakes are not repeated, not as something that needs to be opined about and relitigated endlessly.

Succinct Speech. You never have to wonder what the women I admire mean. They speak thoughtfully yet clearly. Their words are measured and spoken with confidence.

You will rarely find their language peppered with “ums, ahs or you knows,” and you wouldn’t confuse their statements with questions seeking approval.

Support of Others. Whether it’s a listening ear, advice, referral or speaking of names in the right room, the women who inspire me support other women without hesitation.

They realize that for there to be a balance in leadership, we must join together and help others make their way up the ladder.

Leadership is a team sport. To be successful you must walk your talk. I’m honored to know several women who demonstrate that every day.