Women leaders, it’s time to own our part of the problem

By Susan MacKenty Brady on November 8, 2016


I am humbled and honored to take the stage this week to give my keynote address at our Women in Leadership Institute™. Those of you who know me know that the work I do at Linkage is very near and dear to me and my personal mission to help leaders step in to lead their best life.

I look forward to a time when there is no need to differentially invest in the development of women. A time when organizational leadership and the makeup of all leaders in an organization roughly matches the percentage of women and men in the world. I don’t want this to take until my great-, great-, great-granddaughters wonder what the “women’s leadership fuss” was all about. But it will.

Unless we do two things: 1) fearlessly address the people and processes inside our organizations that keep women from advancing, and 2) own our part of the problem.

If we own our part, here is what we will do. We will:

  • Believe that we provide unique value
  • Find our own personal narrative
  • Share responsibility by letting others do the work too
  • Clarify what we want and ask for it
  • Make relationship building a priority
  • Own the barriers that we create for ourselves

We have the unique opportunity to influence the future generations that will follow us. And, we need to get started right away.

To do our part, we need education, inspiration from those who have learned how, and continuous support to make these practices a natural part of how we show up every day. I would be happy if I never heard these real quotes again from women who work at the best organizations in the world: “Why did they select me? I’m nothing special…” “I have no idea what people say about me.” “I don’t have time to delegate.” “I don’t know what my next professional step is.” “I can’t ask for that!” “It’s the system, and there is absolutely nothing I can do.”

Unfortunately, I hear them all the time. Through our work with over 3,000 leaders responsible for talent in half of the Fortune 500, and data from 1,500 Women in Leadership Assessments, we’ve found seven common hurdles that women face as they ascend the leadership ranks. They include: Confidence, Branding & Presence, Ambivalence, Networking, Making the Ask, Proving Our Value, and Bias.

The good news is, with practice and purposeful intention, these hurdles can be crossed skillfully and even triumphantly. The first step is understanding and awareness. I join you as a fellow traveler on this journey. In this short video clip, we share the seven hurdles and how you can shift your thinking—starting now.

By sharing my own stories and some practical exercises that have helped shape my thinking along the way, my hope is that you will: 1) feel like you are not alone on this journey, and 2) use the information that I provide to build a better future. Together, we can (and will) make a difference.

If you can’t join us at the Institute in Dallas this week, take a minute to follow the action on Twitter (#LinkageWIL).

Posted in Executive Development, Inclusive Leadership, Leadership Development, Talent Management, Women in Leadership

About Susan MacKenty Brady

As Executive Vice President of Linkage Solutions, Susan oversees the product management and marketing of Linkage’s two global solution areas: Purposeful Leadership & Advancing Women Leaders. She founded and now serves as co-chair of Linkage's Women in Leadership Institute™, which boasts a network of over 10,000 alumni worldwide and is now in its 19th year. Susan led the launch of Linkage’s work in Advancing Women Leaders and Inclusive Leadership, and led the field research behind the 7 Leadership Hurdles Women Leaders Face in the Workforce™. Susan is the author of Mastering Your Inner Critic and 7 Other High Hurdles to Advancement: How the Best Women Leaders Practice Self-Awareness to Change What Really Matters (McGraw-Hill, November 2018).
2 comments on “Women leaders, it’s time to own our part of the problem
  1. Peggy Madkins says:

    Susan Brady’s video was pretty awesome! Where can I get more information? …What text(s) expound on Susan’s message?

    • Sarah Breigle says:

      Hi Peggy,
      Thanks for taking the time to write to us and we’re glad that the video resonated with you. We will be publishing a series of blog posts in the coming weeks which will offer more information about each of the seven hurdles. Stay tuned for more!
      Warm Regards,
      Sarah Breigle, Editor

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