Women’s History Month: Leadership Journeys, Workplace Equity, and Defining Success

7 lessons from women in leadership positions sharing their journeys, expert advice and more!

Women’s History Month is a way to celebrate and remind ourselves of all the amazing accomplishments of women throughout the years. We asked a panelist of female leaders and managers to share their journey to leadership, advice for others and more during our monthly #ManagerChats on Twitter!  

1 Surround yourself with inspiring women

It’s evident that the people who we surround ourselves with, whether it be on TV, the books we read or the individuals we work with, have an impact on us. 

“From a young age I watched Arlene Dickinson on Dragons Den, and she quickly became a role model for me as I pursued marketing.” – Megan Smith, Marketing Manager at Trellis 

Our panelists proved with their responses that women from their childhood all the way to the present moment have inspired them and made lasting impressions. You don’t know where you can find an influential role model but they are, most likely, all around you. 

“My greatest inspiration and role model is my mother. She was passionate, giving and loved unconditionally. She & my father consistently encouraged me, helped me to dream bigger and bolder, and gave me the confidence to keep striving (no matter what the hurdle)” – Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Invest Ottawa 

2 Acknowledge your accomplishments

Imposter syndrome is something every woman has felt at one point or another. We second guess ourselves or feel like we don’t belong at the table. However, there are tips to help overcome this mindset. 

“You are your own worst enemy. There have been many times I said no to opportunities because I didn’t feel qualified enough, old enough, or smart enough. But, you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take.” – Carly Basian, Higher Education Leadership Expert 

Don’t forget to treat yourself like you would a friend. America Turner, Digital Marketing & Operations Strategist for Influencers, reminds us how we should be treating ourselves:

“Be kind to yourself. Give yourself feedback in a way that’s positive and helpful. Acknowledge how far you have come! Avoid comparing yourself to others. Your progress is at your own pace.”


Pro Tip

With Fellow, you can create a personal stream for documenting your accomplishments, projects worked on and challenges overcome! 

3 Foster equity in the workplace

Building an organization where men and women can thrive is crucial. We asked our panelists what leaders can do to create an inclusive and equal workplace with policies and best practices. With thousands of companies being remote, new challenges have risen with creating or maintaining inclusivity for all employees.

Tonia Kallon, People and Culture Storyteller, suggested leaders implement these three tips: 

 “Leaders, you can actively support women’s ability to thrive by: 1) Fair compensation 2) Providing clear paths to mentorship and career advancement 3) Workplace flexibility”

Hybrid workplaces were also brought up in discussion and the growing pains they may bring with them. Flexibility stigma and equal access to opportunities were mentioned by Chanele:

“Also – as we move towards hybrid workplaces, managers should be aware of flexibility stigma. There has to be practices in place to ensure that people who need to work remotely (esp. working mamas!) still have equal access to career advancing opportunities.” – Chanele McFarlane, Certified Career Strategist 

4 Create your own opportunities

In a TedTalk titled “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection”, it was shared that women only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications. Our panelists had some advice to offer for women looking to grow professionally. 

“Apply for everything. Even if it’s just “for practice.” There’s nothing wrong with getting a “no” every now and then, and you might be surprised how many “yeses” you get instead!” – Dr. Lindy Ledohowski, CEO of Essay Jack

The overwhelming response was: just apply. It may be helpful to ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”. 

“Reframe your thinking.  Mindset is as important as experiences/accomplishments.  Focus on your value-add over what you perceive to be lacking.  Missing a certain skill set? Build it. Nurture relationships. Growth + opportunity go together.” – Tonia Kallon, People and Culture Storyteller

5 Being a leader is more than a title

What makes a leader isn’t the position or title of being an executive or director, for example. Being a leader is all about the characteristics and personality. 

“Being a leader doesn’t mean being at the top of a team or company. Being a leader is a unique and precious skill. Just because you’re a CEO doesn’t mean you’re a leader. Just because you’re the least senior person on your team doesn’t mean you’re not a leader.” – Carly Basian, Higher Education Leadership Expert 

With leadership comes responsibility and has the potential to impact workplace culture. Charlene Theodore, President of the Ontario Bar Association, explains her perspective of leadership skills and responsibilities:  

“Leadership isn’t just about the title. If you have the power to affect the lived experience of those you work with, you have to get leadership skills – including EDI- right.  We all have a role to play as leaders in transforming workplace culture. Women and people of colour have historically been excluded from most professions, including my own.  Workplaces that don’t work for everyone, don’t work for anyone.”

6 Share your journey

Being open and sharing your journey to leadership and career growth allows other women and men to learn from your knowledge. We can all benefit from giving space to women to share their experiences.

“When we see women accomplishing great things, the best thing we can do is shine the light on them. Share the news stories, retweet, repost, share your thoughts. The more you share, the more people see the story, and more people can show their support, too.” – Emily Dumas, Content Lead, Product Go-to-Market for ZoomInfo

The power of social media can be used for learning more about what great things women are achieving. No matter the size of your following, share your journey and encourage other women! 

Megan Smith, Marketing Manager at Trellis, shares her tip:

“When a woman accomplishes great things, ask her questions. Give her success the opportunity to be shared and amplified through channels other than her own. Let’s hype up high-accomplishing women.” 

7 Don’t let others define your worth

Your opinion of yourself is the most important. It can be discouraging and unproductive to compare yourself to others. 

Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Communications at Invest Ottawa shares her thoughts:

“Find champions, role models & mentors who share your values and believe in you. Never stop learning and challenging the status quo. Don’t allow anyone to rock your confidence, or derail your path. Every stumble/misstep is a learning opportunity that has value.”

Sharon Cheung, National Programming Director at COPA National, shares her advice for the next generation with education and removing barriers.

“Get familiar with our systems. Start interning or volunteering early – the more familiar you are with authority, the more comfortable you’ll be in removing the barriers that currently exist & speaking up to people in high positions.”

Thank you to all those who offered their advice and shared their experiences! Stay tuned for more #ManagerChats happening on Twitter on the last Tuesday of every month at 12pm ET. 

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About the author

Kamela Nizio

Kamela is the Marketing Coordinator at Fellow.app, where she leads social media management and content marketing operations. Areas of expertise include productivity, meetings, and mindset. Outside of work, she can be found playing with her puppy Lenny or planning her dream home on Pinterest!

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