There’s no denying it: Women are rising to the top of the working world.
We are finally seeing more and more females scoring big-time jobs and making names for themselves professionally, changing history as they go.
Gone are the days of the unwritten rule that a man must own the title of CEO or vice president of a company, or that he must be the breadwinner in the family.
No longer do we see women satisfied with staying home all day; rather, they’re bursting headfirst through the doors of businesses, working just as hard — if not harder — to outshine their male counterparts to rightfully attain the jobs they deserve.
We should be thanking these women for leading the generations after them.
I look for and fully take advantage of any opportunity to brag about my mother, as she has truly demonstrated how to be a successful, strong woman in the workplace.
She is brilliant, hardworking, kind, caring, creative, funny and a true leader.
She made her way from working as a nanny to being a marketing executive for a two large corporations, all while being a petite 5’2” woman from a town with a population of fewer than 10,000 people.
Here are some things I’ve learned from her journey:
It Doesn’t Come Easily
Most people look at successful people and think, “Well, they have a lot of money. They paid their way to the top, and they knew from the beginning what they wanted to do.” This is not always the case.
It’s simply not always so easy. My mom drifted through her first two years of college, starting out as a computer science major then switching to horticulture, then thought she wanted to be a meteorologist.
She finally settled on a business degree because she had to choose something. She didn’t come from a family of money, but she did have supportive, loving parents who instilled good values in her, which helped her make smart decisions for her future.
She worked harder than most around her and earned a degree that put her in a great position to get a job.
Never Give Up
Accounting degree in hand, she dove into the working world in the 80s, working for a male-dominated engineering facility as a plant manager.
After a few months, my father proposed to her and she bought a brand new car. Life was good… and then she got laid off.
“Sulking for a few days is all right,” she says, “but it’s important to get right back into it.”
A few months later, she met someone who gave her a new professional opportunity: A buyer for a large clothing retailer in her hometown.
After getting knocked down, you must get right back up and learn from what pushed you down. You have to put yourself out there.
Bad things happen to all of us, but those who choose to use them as a source of strength will carry on.
Work Hard Then Work Harder
For the next 12 plus years, my mother slowly rose into different positions as she demonstrated strong leadership qualities.
She worked long days and long nights and rarely took days off. “Calling in sick” wasn’t an option, and “I don’t feel like going to work today” was never a sentence she spoke.
Three pregnancies didn't slow her down either; she took the minimum time of maternity leave offered and returned to work. Every day she showed up and did her job well.
Soon enough, an external consultant, who came in to assess the business and rearrange the leadership, if need be, spotted her.
He watched her for weeks, noting her hard work, dedication, kindness, intelligence and potential. He made sure she received a higher leadership position. From there, things began to fall into place.
It’s important to work on things that challenge you and not become stagnant in your position. If there is room for you to grow, prove that you should be the one filling the spot above you.
Prove to yourself and to others that you can do more and you can be better.
If you believe you can, they will, too.
Emotional Intelligence Is More Valuable Than You Think
Over the last decade, there has been a huge increase in evidence that emotional intelligence is an important factor in leadership.
Being self-aware and aware of others, listening well, anticipating reactions/emotions and responding effectively are just a few of the characteristics that define high emotional intelligence.
It is arguable that women are more emotionally intelligent than men, which proves to be one of the many reasons they are able to rise to the top in the work place.
My mother tells us stories of her coworkers, their lives, their likes and dislikes and why she enjoys working with them.
She establishes personal relationships with each and every one of them and makes sure she understands their skills, wants and needs at work.
But, she goes beyond just that. The key element in emotional intelligence is connecting with your coworkers on a deeper level.
They come to her in times of distress with personal issues, and she doesn’t hesitate to take the time to help resolve them. In fact, she wants to help. She wants her colleagues to know that they can trust her and that they have a friend if ever they need one.
After all, isn't it more enjoyable to go to work every day knowing you’re surrounded by friends, not just tired, coffee-induced zombies who don’t want to be there?
Connecting with your employees and coworkers on a more personal level is something that many women naturally do, which is why they make great leaders.
Stay True To Yourself
It’s important not to lose yourself to your work. Yes, you must be devoted to your work and your personal life, but remember that the former is just a portion of the latter.
Every night, my mother returns home, takes care of the pets, makes dinner, smiles, laughs and appreciates the life she and my dad have made.
Despite holding a vice president position in the work world, in the real world, she is just a silly, funny, loving, down-to-earth person and mother.
She does not let her work define her. She maintains many hobbies, like gardening, reading, dog walking and hanging out with friends and family.
My mom has never put a job above her family, and that is why she is able to successfully have both.
At The Same Time, Stay Dedicated To Your Work
Last year we lost my brother to a tragic accident, which left our lives in complete disarray (to say the very, very least).
My mom took two months to process her new life, and tried to decide whether or not she wanted to return to work at all. Although her job is not her whole life, in some ways it is part of her.
Her team needed her, and she knew that it would do her no good to sit at home every day. She returned to work full time and has taken few days off since.
It has been one year since he passed. It has not been easy by any means, but my mother’s dedication to her work proves that it's possible to push through the hardships. You can endure the worst and come out on the other side.
Stay committed to your work and reap the rewards.
All Working Moms Are Superheroes
My mom works hard all day leading budget meetings and making spreadsheets, yet carves out time to call me on her lunch break to listen to me talk about my own problems. And, she gives me the best advice in the world.
She designs ads and works on strategy by day, but curls up on the couch with me to binge watch "Grey’s Anatomy" and giggle by night.
She conducts interviews and holds the futures of many people in her hands every day, but will come home and revise my college papers, fold laundry, take care of pets and clean the house every night. She is truly the definition of a superwoman.
If I’ve learned anything from my mother, it’s that moms can do it all. They are superheroes in their own right, and every single person on this earth — without exception — literally owes their lives to a woman somewhere.
My mother has paved the way not only for me, but also for women everywhere to follow in her footsteps. She leads by example, proving that women in leadership positions are not only becoming more prevalent but necessary, too.
We have so much to offer to the world and so far, we have only scratched the surface.