Posted June 21, 2017

5 tips for women inspired to lead at The Home Depot and Blinds.com

Today, Home Depot / GCC Social Media Marketer Abigail Sawyer shares her thoughts on working in a company culture that empowers future leaders from all backgrounds, experience levels, and genders:

Women in leadership inspire me!  I recently wrote about my experience attending Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B with my Blinds.com team and wanted to follow up with some specific takeaways for future female leaders.

5 takeaways for women aspiring to be a leader in their organization

1. Find your tribe

Don’t feel like you have to go it alone! Talk loud and proud about you passions, whatever they are, and seek out mentors and peers who love them too. Organize a book club or group event around the thing you love and kindred spirits will come out of the woodwork.

I’m in the middle of Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett, and it gives great instructions for forming a modern-day girl power gang.  It’s so inspiring to connect with other female colleagues over books, common interests, and goals.

2. Allow your challenges to uncover your passion

When you’re faced with something extraordinarily difficult or unthinkable, take the time you need to process and be open to being taken care of by others.  One way to help the healing process is to acknowledge the ways you’re growing through this experience.

Although you’d never wish the cause on anyone else, there is joy in that good that can come out of hard times. Also, find a way to help others who are going through what you are. After the tragic loss of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg now speaks to military families who have experienced loss or are dealing with PTSD. They have found strength in hearing her story.

3. Don’t quit just because you aren’t well liked

Serving as a leader is going to be hard.  But, as a female leader, it’s going to be hard in unique ways. Sometimes people aren’t going to like you and, as a woman, we are often taught that not being liked is a bad thing. Doing what you have to do as a leader can be perceived as “unladylike” and different from the traditional, agreeable role that women have fallen into. Push through and keep doing what you know is right for your team. Seek encouragement from your lady tribe and it’ll blow over.

4. Speak up

We have a Blinds.com core value that is ‘Speak Up and Be Yourself’ that is similar to Sheryl’s Lean In mantra, “Sit at the table.” She encourages women to be confident enough to participate in meetings and not shrink back to the seats along the wall both literally and figuratively. At Blinds.com, all employees are encouraged to not be shy about offering feedback. We feel that this is the best way to make good choices and not be a company of “yes-women” (or “yes-men” for that matter). Step up and take opportunities to make your voice heard. The way that you’re perceived and the future of your career will benefit from it.

5. Help a sister out

The concept that will stick with me most from Option B is being there for those who are hurting. If someone in your life has experienced a loss, don’t stay silent for fear of saying the wrong thing. Be present and take loneliness off the table completely. Check in on them frequently. Be a listening ear and don’t pretend like the loss never happened because you think it’ll be easier.

For the strong ladies in your life who are dealing with tragedy – and even those who aren’t – build their confidence. Brag on them to others when they do good work. Write leaders an encouraging note when they’re struggling with #3. Bring them into discussions they’re hanging back from.

Well, these are a few inspiring notes on growing into leadership as a woman in the workplace that have resonated with me.  I feel honored to work for a company with both men and women that have helped me become a better version of myself!

What are some leadership development tips that have benefited your career?