Unfortunately, many women are unwilling to do the tough negotiating needed to create win-wins. The strong, relentless pursuit of ambition doesn’t come naturally to many of us. According to a Zeno Group survey, seven in ten women have ambitions other than leadership, and only 15 percent of women polled aspire to be the leaders of a prominent organization or start-up company.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting something other than the CEO’s office; I’ll bet a lot of the 70 percent of women with other ambitions want to raise children, the most important job in the world.

But why should we have to choose between raising a family and being a leader? In general, women have been programmed all our lives to be people pleasers. We’re trained to make everyone else happy, not step on toes, and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. It’s often hard for us to state, simply and assertively, what we want.

For example, when I was in charge of the leadership development program, many people would reach out to discuss their career objectives and future opportunities for leadership roles at Deloitte.

Tonie Leatherberry - Antoinette
Tonie Leatherberry

I was struck by how often the men would tell me they wanted to be CEO or the next leader of their area of interest. They would go into detail about all of their accomplishments and why they thought they were the best person for the job.

Of course, women also came into my office, but the way they defined their ambitions and goals contrasted sharply with the men. They were often uncertain. When I asked them about their career goals, they said things like, “Well, I don’t know” and “I think I’m being told that I can do this, but I’m not sure.”

When one woman finally confessed that she wanted to be CEO, I got up from my chair and hugged her so hard that I think I startled her. I said, “You go, girl!”

Tonie Leatherberry

Read more in ‘Dare to be Extra-Ordinary’ – page 32

Dare to be Extra-Ordinary - Tonie Leatherberry
Dare to be Extra-Ordinary

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