We live in a world where less than five percent of CEOs around the globe are women. If more women are going to rise to the top, we need to understand the secrets of those who have made it. Have you ever wanted to sit down with the exceptional women executives that have climbed the ranks and ask them how they approach work and life? Do you want to know what their journeys have been like? Has their success been worth the price? Is there something different about who they are or how they deal with the world? In essence, do you want to get inside their heads and understand how they think? We interviewed the women who made it, and, in the ICEDR Research Report Taking Charge, we tell you about their roads to success.
During our research, one thing soon became apparent: the diversity of the women involved. There is no single profile of the woman that makes it to the top of a large, global organization. The women we spoke with currently work in nineteen countries and range in age from late 20s to early 60s. They are straight, gay, married, single, partnered, divorced; some have children, others do not. Some grew up rich, others poor. On the surface, it seemed that there were no rules to achieving success. Yet, looking deeper, some common features became clear. You will find that these women take charge of their work and personal lives in three common ways: they EXPLORE who they are and what they want, OWN their choices, and REPAY others.
Top women executives know their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. They have developed a leadership style and a definition of success that works for them. They have ventured into a career journey full of twists and turns, and acknowledge that being a senior executive – male or female – is not for everyone. But, it is clear that they are happy with their career and life choices. In large part, this is because they have taken the time to EXPLORE who they are and what they want.
A key theme that arose time and again, was the need to step up, be proactive and make things happen. The women we interviewed share this fundamental approach: you must own your choices and actions. These successful women executives voice their opinions, build their network, and take responsibility for their career choices. They are clear about the reasons for their decisions and are not afraid to take risks. They dive into work and life with enthusiasm and believe that no matter which path you choose, you must make these two words your mantra: OWN IT.
While these women are talented, they also know that they have climbed the ranks with the help of others – from family and friends to colleagues, bosses, and sponsors. This support is never unappreciated and they believe that it is important to REPAY this help by passing on support and opportunities to others. Fundamentally, it matters to them to make a difference. For this reason, they are deeply invested in the success of their communities, team, customers and the next generation of women leaders. These executives think in terms of the legacy they will leave.
Lauren Noël and Christie Hunter Arscott are T50’s Thinkers of the Month for August. They are launching QUEST, a global leadership institute for early career women, in September 2016.