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What Does it Take for Women to Thrive in Leadership Roles Today?

April 3, 2023

Detroit Free Press
March 29, 2023
Chanel Stitt

Want a leadership position? Here are some tips from 2 women in executive roles

Although more women are finding themselves in executive positions, the pathway to get there isn’t always easy.

That was one of the takeaways from female executives speaking Tuesday at a Detroit Economic Club event at Motor City Casino Hotel.

The event — titled “What Does it Take for Women to Thrive in Leadership Roles Today?” — was sold out.

Featured speakers were Janet Foutty, executive board chair at Deloitte U.S , who also is an author, and Linda Hubbard, president and COO of Carhartt Inc. The panel was moderated by Sandy Pierce, chair of Huntington — Michigan, and regional banking executive and DEC board chair.

“Women in leadership are switching jobs at the highest rate ever reported,” Pierce said during the event. “According to Deloitte’s global Women @ Work report, widespread burnout and lack of flexible work continues to hinder progress in support of working women.”

The conversation focused on leadership frameworks that work, and it was based on a book that Foutty wrote titled “Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership.”

Foutty and Hubbard talked about their own leadership skills, along with the impacts of imposter syndrome and flexibility.

Here are more takeaways from Foutty and Hubbard’s discussion:

Leadership Today Looks Different Than Their Early Career Days

When it comes to the type of leaders that the world needs, Foutty said that the things coming at us are very complex, such as changes in social media and the way social media is thought of. But when someone builds a strong team with authenticity and empathy at the forefront, employees are more inspired, which leads to better results for the organization as a whole.

You Have to be Accessible to Your Team

Hubbard said a leader should be “visible, accountable and valuable.” She said leaders should communicate to their teams regularly and should work with the team instead of just commanding them.

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is Present in Many Circumstances

The syndrome, described as an internal state of self-doubt even when performing well, can be present whether one has career uncertainty, one is in the midst of a major business deal or one doesn’t know the possible outcome of a situation. Hubbard said her solution to over come her sense of feeling vulnerable is to practice what she is plans to say out loud in her car, bedroom or office.

Flexibility is Necessary, but can be Hard to Ask for

Foutty said Deloitte surveyed women about flexibility in the workplace. “This survey (found) that 97% of this set of young to middle level women said that if they asked for flexibility, they believed it would harm their chance of their next promotion.” She said one solution to making people feel comfortable is creating space and policies that allow for conversations.

Some Improvements Have Taken Place for Women in Leadership

Hubbard said that on the plus side, there are more women in leadership roles and there is more flexibility in the workplace. But, she said, “Technology and the ‘always on’ are the things that have made the work experience both good and bad.”

Some Things About the Workplace Haven’t Changed

Foutty said: “Women, especially in lower level roles, but across the board, I still believe, and the research backs … are still just one crisis away from either stalling in their careers or exiting their careers. And we certainly saw that in the pandemic.”

Asking for What You Want Might be Scary or uncomfortable

Hubbard said it’s critical to be clear about what you want when it comes to life and career goals. After you have identified those goals, if it is hard to bring them up, Hubbard recommends inserting those wishes into performance reviews or check-ins with your boss.