What Do We Know about Advancing as a Female Leader?  A Lot!

September 2020 | By Danielle Hochstein, Ph.D.

Recently I had the pleasure of co-chairing the 5th Annual Advancing Women’s Leadership Skills and Opportunities in Pharma and Healthcare - East.  The three-day event was filled to the brim with great speakers, learning opportunities, and activities—like dancing! I loved the energy of the event, and the passion of both the speakers and the very engaged audience, despite it being a virtual event.


As you may know by now, I like to share what stuck with me about the things I heard and learned about developing as a female leader in today’s world. I hope that you’ll find them helpful as well:

Ask others to advocate for you

While this is a simple statement, many of us—most often women—tend to feel shy about asking others to advocate on our behalf. Even if we’re already in leadership positions or have proven our value time and again. But asking others to advocate for you shows that you are confident in your abilities and may just help you break through to the next leadership level.

Take more risks

Growth and opportunities come from us saying “yes” to learning experiences, even if we don’t know exactly how to do what we’ve been asked—yet! When we realize that personal growth almost always involves stepping out of our comfort zones and figuring some new things out, we are much better positioned to take risks that pave the way for bigger or better opportunities.

Embrace all people experiences

People you meet, work with, or generally spend time around can be supportive, loving, and have an overall positive impact on you. Then there are those who drain your energy, cause more harm than good, or just feel like bad actors. Both of those types of people and experiences are important for you to grow. Embrace them all and try to learn from each of them.

Aim to be the best version of yourself

Whether professionally or personally, it’s important to know what keeps you on-track, and what derails you. Start by asking yourself what “your best” looks and feels like. Make sure you regularly pause and take stock to add more positivity or remove obstacles in order to get to what’s important to you. Too often we make sure to take care of others but forget ourselves.

Choose how you label events

We all have initial reactions to events, deciding if an experience is positive or negative, which in turn makes us respond a certain way. But what if you pause and catch yourself before labeling an experience one way or another, consciously choosing how to act, process, and move forward? Try it out—reshape not the experiences themselves, but the way those experiences impact you.

Thrive in the uncomfortable zone

Being a leader means making decisions when you don’t have all the information, when things change rapidly, or when you don’t have prior experience in what you’re required to lead. That’s normal, and the trick is to accept that this is normal. Rather than stressing out, use your energy to dive in, find solutions, and remove barriers.

Know your self-worth

How often have you clearly articulated your self-worth to yourself and others? Many of us don’t take the time to do that. However, knowing and accepting your self-worth changes both how you interact with others and the way others see you.

Listen, listen, listen

It’s amazing how this comes up all the time. When you listen, you give someone else room to share and collect their thoughts. It shows respect and allows you to learn and internalize new things and perspectives for better decision-making and relationship-building.

Check your own biases

We just attended a women’s leadership conference. There were no biases, right? Well, the fact is that we are shaped heavily by the environments we are in. In today’s world that means we likely have some unconscious biases about other women as well. Take a step back and ask yourself: where do my biases show up? How can I remove barriers, instead of creating them?

Uplift, mentor, or sponsor other women

We often hear that the best way to get opportunities for growth in your career or personal life is to have people who mentor, sponsor, and uplift you… but that means we need a whole lot of people willing to do those things for other women. How can you be that person to others today?


What’s missing from the list? Let me know. Until next time!

Topics: Leadership