Ruth Bramson, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, recently gave advice on Forbes to young women leaders on how to build their leadership skills and attain leadership positions.
Leadership is a key skill that one must work on over time, but it requires other leaders to share their experience. “It is a talent that needs to be encouraged, nurtured by those with shared ideals, recognized and validated,” said Ruth.
1. Be prepared.
2. Be accountable.
3. Be adaptable.
4. Be accessible.
5. Be authentic.
6. Be generous.
The one advice I’d like to focus on today is the first: “to be prepared”. Bramson talks about how critical undergraduate and advanced degrees are, but also encourages us to be life-long learners. “Even after earning an advanced degree, the learning should not stop. Future leaders must continue to dedicate time and energy throughout their careers to understand innovations in technology and communications and advances specific to their profession”.
As a recent college graduate, I often worry that the lack of a structured education will dissuade from learning about new ideas, reading and challenging myself. But this year I’ve actually learned a lot more than I expected, poring over fundraising how-tos, attending webinars and lectures, and reading books on non-profit management.
I’m certainly in a unique position since I have had to learn all these things as the co-founder of a non-profit, but I believe that this advice is crucial for any young woman wanting to advance in her career and gain leadership positions. Learning a new skill does not necessarily need to be onerous or time-consuming; it could be the slow acquisition of a technology platform (Twitter), or reading books from experts in your field.
This year I’ve learned to use Twitter. I went from barely knowing what it’s for, to managing two accounts (a personal account and my organization’s account) that I check frequently. Twitter has been an important networking tool for me, and has led to several promising connections.
Look over where you are in your career path and where you would like to be. What skills do you think you should learn? What small steps can you take in acquiring them?