26 September 2023

Moving on up: Ten skills that will help you reach the top office

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J. Goldston* says there are some important qualities women need to advance and be more effective as leaders, whether on their way to the top or already there.

Now seems like the perfect time to share some of the latest research on female leadership.

First the good news.

According to a recent Pew Research Center Study, female leadership is on the rise.

While the ascent is slow, this much-welcomed progress is great for equality and beneficial to the bottom line.

This was even backed up by The Royal Bank of Canada in their recently commissioned, widely circulated study showing that having women in CEO positions improves organisations’ financial performance and lends to a more diverse workplace.

So, once you get there, or even better, as you hone your skills, what are some of the qualities you need to advance or be a more effective leader?

Dr Betty Vandenbosch (pictured), an award-winning administrator at Purdue University Global, has her own list of five lessons in becoming a more effective leader.

Actively Listen.

We all like to talk, but the best leaders are the ones who listen.

Women seem to be better at this.

That doesn’t mean you can never voice your opinion, but if you’re able to genuinely understand the perspectives of others, you’ll be able to work with your team more effectively.

And that means hearing what people aren’t saying, as well as what they are.

It’s never enough to limit yourself to what you personally know.

Maintain inner calm.

If you have an inner calm and peace about who you are and what you are capable of, you are able to lead without your ego taking over.

A person who is anxious about looking good or getting that next promotion is unlikely to be an effective or gracious leader because they’re only looking out for themselves.

By accepting where you are, you’ll be able to do your job to the best of your ability.

Don’t let emotions get in the way of decision making.

Set regular meetings & stick to them.

By meeting with your entire team, as often as daily, but no less than weekly, you have the opportunity to speak openly and freely about what you each would like to work on, as well as discuss bigger topics when they arise, including what’s going on within the organisation and how to move forward.

And, you’ll get to know & like each other better — a cohesive team will always move more effectively than a group that don’t know each other well.


Creativity means having lots of ideas, but innovation requires implementing the good ones.

An innovative leader not only has or enables her team to have lots of ideas, but also has the faith of her team so that they will implement those ideas quickly.

An innovative leader also appreciates the naysayers.

Naysayers help avoid unintended consequences.

She understands that it’s not only imperative to build a culture that encourages team members to openly share their crazy ideas, but also to foster an environment that empowers them to take initiative.

Not being afraid to change course when warranted.

An innovative leader recognises when an idea isn’t as good as she thought.

Commitment to a course of action is important, but not if it’s not a good course.

Innovative leaders are not afraid to change course when warranted.

Being flexible and open to new ideas and course correction can lead a team to reflect, assess, and adjust its approach to a project.

Beth Gerstein, the Co-CEO of jewellery maker Brilliant Earth, has advice for aspiring female CEOs: have confidence, take risks, and foster relationships.

It’s important to have confidence in your ability, so speak up when you have an idea and make your voice heard.

Volunteer for stretch assignments and don’t shy away from tough projects.

Lastly, fostering and maintaining relationships is key in any organisation.

Be thoughtful about creating and nurturing your connections, as they can dramatically influence your career trajectory, not to mention make work more enjoyable and meaningful.

Solicit advice from people you look up to that can guide and influence your career.

Gerstein shares her five lessons learned throughout her career that have propelled her to success.

Be Persistent:

If you practice persistence, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

During your journey, you will likely face a lot of resistance, but ultimately if you stick with what you believe is right, you can truly make an impact.

Lead by example:

You need to be intentional about both what you say and what you do.

Everything you do sets the tone for the organisation.

Even day-to-day things, such as showing up to meetings on time and being responsive to feedback and new ideas for improvement, show your team that you are invested in the work that you’re doing and encourage them to follow suit.

You’re only as good as your team:

A significant amount of your time as a CEO is focused on building your team — recruiting, retaining, and working hand-in-hand with HR.

Finding and nurturing the right people is critical to your success and will take up much of your time and energy.

Your success as a CEO comes through empowering others to carry out your strategy and vision.

Repetition is key:

It’s important to over-communicate your message to ensure it is heard — whether reinforcing your mission and strategy, explaining a change in process, or implementing new best practices.

It can take six or seven times of repeating the same message, in varying formats, for it to be heard by everyone in your organisation.

You are always on:

Leaving challenges and problems at the office is not an option.

The role of CEO means addressing the tough and unexpected issues, particularly when they are uncharted territory for the organisation, and consistently being available to help and answer questions.

* N. J. Goldston is an entrepreneur in fashion and technology brands and a Forbes Site contributor. She tweets at @njgoldston.

This article first appeared at www.forbes.com.

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