To this day, women are still astonishingly underrepresented in the boardroom, and only 29% of women hold senior management positions globally. The progress in changing remains gradual, and women are still confronted with barriers that prevent far too many from holding leadership positions across business sectors.
Despite the low numbers of female executive representation, women have a powerful ability to achieve greatness, both personally and professionally. They also have the innate potential to inspire and empower others to do the same.
So, why are the numbers not better?
There are a lot of expectations on women both in the workplace and at home, many of which are not equally placed on their male counterparts. And it is difficult, with many women required to balance raising families as well as leading corporations. Having experienced both worlds, being a mother to three children and becoming the founder and CEO of a global company with more than 900 employees, I believe there are three key factors to leading with success.
Build your resilience.
Resilience is an important attribute in the boardroom and out. Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, wrote that “resilience” is her word of the year for 2020. “Resilience is the only [word] that’s going to be just as relevant when the pandemic is over,” she said. “Resilience is the quality that was summoned in us by all the challenges of 2020. And it’s also the quality that’s going to carry us forward into 2021.”
From my perspective, challenges are what build us and make us stronger. If you can hold on to your optimism and hope in these challenging times, you will likely find that you have great power within yourself. Optimism is the driver that helps us find solutions to so many problems. And as we practice optimism and resilience, we learn that we can trust ourselves and that we can make it if we just keep moving. Challenges and the ways we face them can improve the future because they give us inner strength.
A simple, research-backed method of being more present is through mindfulness. Being in the present moment and focusing on the now is at the heart of this practice. I believe dedicating just a few minutes each day to mindfulness has benefits that can transcend to every role in our lives.
Embrace a positive mindset.
Closely related to resilience is your mindset.
Your mindset can take you up or down, which is why I suggest embracing a mindset where you look for possibilities in the face of challenges and believe in yourself. From my perspective, if we let doubt and negative self-talk take over, we will hold ourselves back and never accomplish anything great. Doubt lingers around every corner and will invite itself in at every opportunity if you allow it.
Research has shown that 75% of executive women have experienced imposter syndrome at one time or another. This is something many women battle over and over again. And for women of color, these feelings are often amplified.
Help stop the cycle by reflecting on the kind of leader you want to be for other women around the world. Let’s instill in young women the notion that they are capable of anything — including being a leader. Mentor the women you work with. Work hard to create an environment that empowers them and makes them feel valued.
We rise together.
Stay in the moment.
We all have so much to do, and it can be easy to look backward, forward and all around and not be in the now. And there is so much power in the now. One Forbes contributor compared trying to balance motherhood and working outside the home to walking on a tightrope; it’s challenging to balance being everything all at once.
But by training yourself to stay in the moment, you open up your potential and creativity to meet the challenges you face. And I believe if we all commit to coming together and helping one another at every moment, there’s no dream or feat that women can’t achieve. Presence reminds us that we can all take the time to be in each moment equally, to take care of our health, look after our families and lead our businesses.
The first step in facing a challenge and staying in the moment is remaining calm. I find the best way to tackle this is by connecting with nature. Everyone should identify their own place or state of being where their mind can clearly go back to the root of the problem to find a real answer. The second step is to be braver than you feel. And lastly, be persistent and don’t lose your concentration, but also be patient in the matter.
Leading with success is vital to making the world a better place for all women, and by cultivating resilience, fostering a positive mindset and staying present, I know that we can accomplish this and so much more. Each of us has a critical role to play, and only by joining together can we forge a better future with endless opportunities for women to succeed both in the boardroom and at home.