The Texas Conference for Women sparked a fire inside thousands of women that will continue to burn as we are paving the way in leadership. Names like United States soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, and Author of Eat. Pray. Love. Elizabeth Gilbert, took the keynote stage to provoke refreshing and insightful discussion. What I loved most was how each woman had a different story and approach yet they all were impactful. This says a lot about the road to success. How it looks different for everyone and there’s not only one way to get there.
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I had the opportunity to sit down and have one on one conversations with Melanie Foley, VP of Liberty Mutual to discuss her story and how she turned her struggle into triumphs by climbing her way to a top leadership position. As well as thought leader, Tamara Fields Austin Office Managing Director at Accenture who is a voice for diversity and inclusion. Both of their stories were remarkable, I wanted to pull some key takeaways or in the words of Tracee Eliss Ross “pearls of wisdom” to share with you.
1. Learn to Say No.
“I don’t care”. Three simple words that Elizabeth Gilbert said as she took the keynote stage. I noticed as some women looked around with puzzled faces. It may sound harsh but when you hear her reasoning it makes perfect sense. Know what and who you care about and drowned out anything that doesn’t align with that. Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do and the most important things you do want to do. Prioritize your goals and eliminate anything that doesn’t move the needle closer to them.
2. The Power of Relationship
Not just a relationship alone, but trusting relationships.
“Trusting relationships are the strongest relationships. And you build a trusting relationship by being confident and demonstrating your alignment with the other person through effective communication, transparency, and being vulnerable. Building a trusting relationship means you have a bond with people who you see – and who see you – as a competent, reliable ally who will give and take honest feedback with all good intent.” – Melanie Foley.
Melanie explains that especially early in your career you don’t know who’s going to be making decisions about you whether you get an assignment or even promoted or hired. Be sure to value people and your relationship.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
“Remember the idea of: Help. Help. Ask. Recognizing when people need help, and then offering that help is an invaluable skill. Equally important is having the confidence to ask for help when you need it. Asking for and accepting help makes you vulnerable. But having each other’s back is a key component of a trusting relationship and it is that shared vulnerability and the collective strength of working together that builds the strongest bond.” – Melanie Foley.
4. The Power of Mentorship
Finding a mentor when you need one as well as being a voice of reason for others displays leadership. Tamara Fields, Managing Director at Accenture explains why mentorship is so important to her.
“I really don’t want people’s path to be as hard as my path, and I don’t want them to have to struggle with some of the things I had to struggle with. I think mentoring is very important. Mentorship is really about being available to hear and understand, and also to give you my experiences from the past.”
5. Promote Inclusion & Diversity
As a leader, you have the power to set the standard for your company and your culture.
“I think the key thing is when you are becoming an executive within a company, it’s your responsibility to make sure that inclusion is there. So you get to set the tone as a leader of how the conversations happen in a room at the table一who’s talking, who’s not talking, and how you can encourage others to talk.” – Tamara Fields. Listen to Ep 51 – Accenture Sets Goal to Achieve Gender Balanced Workforce by 2025 to hear how Accenture is taking action on promoting inclusion and gender parity in the workplace.
We often forget that everyone has a different story. The power to connect and learn from others makes for not only a great leader but paves the way for future generations. Being surrounded by strong women and sitting down to discuss one on one left me inspired. I’ll leave you with this quote, “We must leave the world better than we found it.” – Amanda Southworth.