By Kristine Steinberg, CEO of Kismet
“The women we honor today teach us three very important lessons. One, that as women, we must stand up for ourselves. The second, as women, we must stand up for each other. And finally, as women, we must stand up for justice for all.” — Michelle Obama
As an executive coach, my practice celebrates and is honored to work with people of all genders. At Kismet, we believe that the gender imbalance in our society can be remedied by inclusion and education for all genders.
That said, each gender faces its own uphill battle when rising into leadership positions. Women in particular have been facing up to a significant plight. In recent years, we can proudly see the rise of empowerment in women.
Over the past five years, I have focused a part of my practice on group coaching for executive women. Bringing powerful leaders together from diverse industry sets, I aim to create a safe and inspiring forum for women to share challenges, celebrate successes, and support each other to stay motivated — and continue forging the way for women coming up behind them. Through this work, two themes have surfaced…
Theme One: It’s Particularly Lonely at the Top
The phrase “lonely at the top” takes on a more intense meaning for women in leadership roles, who often report feeling isolated. With a history of having to fight for limited roles, women are set up to compete vs. support and lift each other up. This makes it difficult to build trusted, professional communities inside the workplace. Forums where women can unpack challenges, show vulnerabilities, and feel inspired to elevate other women need to be a top priority for organizational leadership.
Theme Two: An Inability to Answer the Question: What Do I Want?
Breaking the glass ceiling requires drive, focus, time, intent, and unwavering commitment. Relentlessly pursuing next-level roles, higher compensation, bigger teams, getting a seat at the table, having a greater impact… leading is an all-consuming challenge. These accomplishments are impressive and hard-won, yet women who are nearing or have reached the top are reporting an emerging confusion when it comes to what they want next. They are questioning their purpose and there is a common desire to get back in touch with “themselves.” With all the hard work under their belt, combining the powerful roles women are occupying with a return to a deeper, internal sense of purpose allows for a crossing of the threshold — becoming tenured into the realm of broad-reaching leadership.
How to Connect With Yourself in Order to Continue Elevating and Leading
If you can relate to the feeling of loneliness as a woman in a leadership role or are struggling to determine what the next phase of your career might look like, I invite you to consider the following prompts to connect with yourself.
- Reflect on what you know. Consider the gold mine of your skills, talents, attributes, and experience. What can you do exceptionally well?
- Remember what it feels like to support others. Think of a time when you competed with another woman, and they lost and you won. How did that feel? Compare that with a time when you helped another woman and supported their success. How did it feel when they rose up?
- Define your purpose. How do you want to apply your skills, knowledge, and wisdom towards giving back and lifting others up? What walls can you break down for other women who are interested in similar careers as you? Is there something that your community needs that you can provide?
- Dream — and get specific. What are you yearning for next? Dream about what your future can look like three years from now. Maybe it’s mentoring other women, joining the board of a socially conscious company, or investing in a startup. Maybe you want to find a new creative pursuit or enter an academic degree program.
- Make it happen. Once you’ve completed your internal reckoning, the external focus can begin. Tap into your network, let them know what you’re looking for, and gather information from others who have gone where you want to go. How did they break through? Go on the hunt for what it is you want (as you have always known how to do).
By staying purposeful and attuned to what the world needs right now — and sharing the abundance of knowledge, wisdom, experience, or money we might have — we can help the world and those around us evolve in positive directions, too.
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today: www.thisiskismet.com.