“The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, ‘I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.’”
What traits do today’s prominent female leaders share? Let’s take a look:
- Effective role models: A recent CNN opinion piece about how to have more women like Sheryl Sandberg concludes that it is the prominence of such women that inspires others to be like them: “We can create more Sandbergs by surrounding ourselves with confident, outspoken women.” Sandberg herself actively works to encourage others by running a monthly salon with talks by inspirational women. The more role models we have across all industries, the more likely it is that the female leaders of the future will be inspired.
- Mentoring—at all levels: If you can identify opportunities and encourage women early on then they will be able to fulfill their potential throughout their careers. Some of the most prominent women had great mentors—and they are often now working as mentors to the next generation themselves.
Confidence: Confidence can mean a world of difference between a woman who is able to live her dreams and one who is not—so often a talented woman is held back through lack of confidence. The former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher was famous for her confidence and iron will—and for her slogan “The lady’s not for turning.” In an article for the MBA@UNC, media pioneer Arianna Huffington cites lack of confidence as “a killer to success for women. In order to advance their careers, women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.”
Keep reading: 7 shared traits that unite women in power
A recent Girls in Tech/Facebook meetup about learning from your career mistakes was full of actionable pieces of advice, particularly on finding and keeping good mentors. Here are some of the best quotes of the night:
On the importance of having mentors:
"Build a network of women. You don’t have to be on your own." -AT&T’s Amanda Stent
"Do your homework in approaching a mentor - don’t ask someone just based on reputation" -Tweeted by @AmyVernon
"If you don’t feel comfortable with your mentor, maybe that person isn’t the right mentor. " -Bloomberg’s Catherine Hui
On being mentored:
"If you go to therapy, you don’t lie to your shrink. Same philosophy applies to mentors. Be honest with them." - Nikki Stevens (@drnikki)
Who are your mentors? How did you find them? How important is it to you to have a mentor?
(Photos by M. Cecelia Bittner and Jessica Hullinger)
The New Face Of Modern Mentorship
Your mental image of a mentor is probably a dignified older man with spendy cufflinks. In reality, the best mentor may be sitting in a cubicle right next to you.
Founder and CEO of No. 8 Media, Inc., Alicia Morga (@AliciaMorga) talks about her approaches to finding great mentors:
Flip the script
When I say, “mentor,” most people conjure a wise elder who takes them under her wing and imparts priceless advice and ongoing guidance. In reality, a mentor is almost never a personal coach or a parent figure; she is a person—as flawed and unique as any human—to go to for a specific problem. It’s impossible for one person to have all the answers and a single mentor can’t address all your needs.
You can’t force mentoring
A mentor, ideally, is someone with whom you connect based on background (“she reminds me of me when I was her age”), interests, values, or even a problem to be solved. The best mentors in my life looked nothing like I had envisioned and nothing like me. We connected through a shared passion.
Sometimes, the best mentors find you.
We can all learn something from almost anyone—whether it’s about a specific topic or about ourselves. All it takes is a willingness to go into a situation admitting we don’t have all the answers.
[Image: Flickr user Koro]