We recently attended the Chicago Women’s Leadership Summit, where female leaders, business analysts, software engineers, pilots, entrepreneurs, architects, and realtors came together to discuss solutions to the common barriers they encounter in the professional world. The summit projected voices from a range of experience levels, all of which contributed to an elevated dialogue around this pressing topic. While women still face an uphill battle in professional settings, it was inspiring to hear that the initiatives West Monroe embraces to develop female leaders were validated as best practices by speakers at the event. Below are key takeaways from the Summit highlighting how women, both personally and within the context of West Monroe, can empower the next generation of female leaders.
Practice vocalizing your top professional and personal strengths. What would your colleagues, friends, and family say about you? Say what you can do. Say it loud and proud. Develop your brand statement and say it in front of a mirror or practice it with a trusted colleague. After all, you are your biggest advocate for your brand. West Monroe recently hosted “How to be a Better Networker,” a training for women that focused on developing your elevator pitch while staying true to yourself in networking situations. The training placed a strong emphasis on owning who you are because people can often sense when you put up a façade. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you can become a successful networker by knowing your values and capitalizing on your strengths. Own your brand and display it confidently.
Always track your progress using well-defined metrics to keep a clear record of your performance. Quantifiable performance indicators resonate more effectively and provide an unbiased view of your performance. Including these metrics in your performance reviews is the best way to demonstrate the impact you are having on the organization and support your case for appropriate compensation. West Monroe’s formal project reviews and redesigned annual review process leverage data to create objective measurement. We believe there are more opportunities for employees to use performance data to create more transparency on actual performance to navigate their career and career growth within our career model.
Your Career Board of Directors serve as a trusted sounding board to guide your career decisions and aspirations. Each member of your board should be a trustworthy voice who has your best interests in mind. Use this group to talk through an upcoming major decision or to overcome self-doubt. It’s important to have a safe place to fail so you can continue to grow and push boundaries. West Monroe encourages every employee to develop a Career Board of Directors from Day 1 and offers the Career Champions program to provide mentorship to women. We also have various outlets to acquire and develop skills in a safe and encouraging environment.
Diversity of experience and perspective across the workplace is an important driving force for better outcomes and more dynamic solutions. Your Career Board of Directors should be no different! Aim to diversify your board with members from varying industries, educational backgrounds, and economic histories. This multitude of perspectives will offer well-rounded feedback on issues and challenge your beliefs for the better. West Monroe offers various opportunities to meet people from other practice areas and grow your Career Board of Directors through internal initiatives and leadership roles. For example, our variety of chiefs committees highlights the diverse interests represented within the firm. Setting up informational coffee meetings is a great way to gain insights into other’s perspectives and learn from their unique backgrounds. It’s a highly encouraged practice at the firm.
Studies show that women tend to apologize more than men. Far too often, these apologies are unwarranted. If you miss an instant message, try “thanks for being patient” instead of “sorry I missed you.” If someone calls out a spelling error on your presentation, thank them for catching the error. You should always own your mistakes, but you must save your apologies for when they are truly warranted. Everyone at West Monroe can benefit from these reminders. Look to project managers, colleagues, and others who can help hold you accountable in incorporating some of these takeaways in your daily tasks. We have the opportunity and responsibility to consciously decide how others perceive us.