Women in leadership share 6 top career development tips

Women in leadership

In honor of Women's History Month, CareerBuilder CEO Susan Arthur hosted a discussion on women in leadership roles. She was joined by members of CareerBuilder’s Board of Directors. They included Sysco Vice President of Marketing Raj Register, independent Board Director Janice Chaffin, and Tegna Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Victoria Harker.

Arthur began the panel speaking to the importance of listening to and supporting women leaders. The participants, selected for their decades of leadership, conducted a lively hour-long conversation touching on the challenges and opportunities they’ve encountered over the years. Here are their best career development tips for women in the workplace.

The road to success may not be direct.

The best road trips are often the ones in which you inadvertently diverge from your agenda. Careers are similar. Harker says, "Everything won't be linear. A candidate will make horizontal and lateral moves to gain skills over time – they absolutely can and should do that in their career.”

Be a mentor and an advocate.

It’s one thing to be a mentor – and another to be an advocate. Register says, “An active advocate speaks on someone’s behalf, pushing them forward to place them in the rooms where it matters versus just having something good to say about them in the hallway.”

There are no setbacks. Only opportunities.

There’s the old saying (depending on where one lives), “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” The same is true of challenging times. Says Janice Chaffin, “There was the Great Resignation, but with that comes the ‘great rehiring’ and people are also switching jobs.”

Check your bias.

Assumptions can derail promotions and alienate qualified candidates. Says Chaffin, "One of the things I've encountered is likability bias, which is when kindness is confused with incompetence or the inability to make hard decisions. Twice in my career, when I was going for promotions, I dealt with this. It really made me aware of the area of bias.”

Learn the art of possible.

Anything is possible, right? Not always. We have to deal with the realities of budgets and deadlines, but you can manage expectations within your team. Says Register, “Be clear and intentional about what's really possible, and be transparent with your teams.”

Lead and manage through a lens of empathy.

“Be an empathetic leader and empathetic individual, particularly when you're dealing with groups of people that have been hit hard and lost their jobs or are dealing with loved ones that are ill,” says Chaffin. Arthur points out the increase in demand for community and social services workers on CareerBuilder.com and notes, “It feels like a direct derivative of everything people have been through for the last couple years. So don’t lose sight of that.”

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