The Mentoring Program at Women Accelerators features monthly group learning sessions in addition to pairing mentors with mentees for one on one personalized professional development.
The session this month focused on LEADERSHIP. This panel style discussion featured three of our mentors who have much experience on this topic: Szifta Birke, Robin Rose, and Deirdre Pierotti. You can learn more about these women on our mentoring page!
Robin highlighted the opportunities that can come from volunteering at your company. A general event or fundraising planning committee can allow you to meet members across your organization that you wouldn’t normally interact with on a day to day basis. The more exposure you have to different functions and their operations, the more valuable you are. It could get you considered for new development projects that you didn’t even know about. Think of this as a way to network in your own company! I’m kicking myself because I worked at a large company for 2 years that had so many different employee engagement groups that I never joined. Truly a missed opportunity. Now working at smaller companies that don’t have those options, I realized- why not start my own group?
Leadership is all about continuous learning– Szifta has a lifetime of experience and yet has enrolled in a class that is teaching Crucial Conversations from a different lens. This really resonated with me. If you aren’t constantly reading articles about leadership, reading professional development books, or listening to podcasts on the topic, then what you’ve learned in the past fades. Leadership is a muscle and you need to work on keeping it in shape. For anyone who hasn’t read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, I HIGHLY recommend it. The first time I read it was 4 years ago. With 4 more years of industry experience and taking on more responsibility, I think it’s time I reread it with a new perspective!
Another key point that Deirdre stressed was knowing your value (also a book). I think this is especially important for women in the workforce. How often do we hear about male coworkers making significantly more in the same role? Being able to recognize how much you offer your company and asking for your value is a very different aspect of leadership. It’s speaking up for yourself, which is always the hardest. Circling back to the previous point, Crucial Conversations, has personally helped me navigate those conversations! This topic has come up a lot recently with my girlfriends. Two of my close friends, and myself, have quit our jobs for better opportunities. Making change is difficult, but when you know you’re overworked and undervalued, it’s time to make a change. Talk about this with your friends- too often we say everything is fine and portray the #bossbabe lifestyle on social media. We need to normalize talking about career dips, changes, and not being happy in our current role. Knowing your value and demanding it is easier with a support system.
This was a great session with valuable insight from women who have decades of experience. I can’t wait for next month’s session! The program runs January to June, with the application process beginning each fall. If you have FOMO reading this, join us next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep our resources page up to date for you.