The topic of what it takes for women to lead in business today is as relevant as it’s ever been. The wild success of Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 bestseller Lean In has brought new awareness and currency to the topic of female leadership. It should come as no surprise that, as successful women in business, the 2014 W100 have some strong thoughts on the subject. Here is some of their best advice:
“Be confident and work on becoming a good leader. This will earn you the respect of your peers—men and women alike.”
—Karina Hayat (No. 45), Prizm Media Inc.
“Recognize when to be assertive if the situation calls for it. Don’t be a shrinking violet!”
—Patsy Tremblett (No. 80), Prima Information Solutions
“Figure out your vision and values and mission first. Be absolutely clear about them, and make every decision with them as your lens. From there, work like hell to realize your dreams.”
—Christie Henderson (No. 75), Henderson Partners LLP
“It is exhilarating to be in charge, and to have the freedom (and responsibility) to make tough decisions. Yes, it’s important to gather as much information and ideas as you can from staff and customers, but ultimately decisions are yours to make.”
—Kathryn Gallagher Morton (No. 48), Maplelea
“Trust your instincts. When a question or a thought comes to mind, it is important to act on it, as your instincts are almost always right.”
—Ruth Douglas (No. 54), Fifth Story (News Canada Inc.)
“Keep your own counsel. Don’t talk about everything with everyone. Get a small circle of trusted confidantes and stop there.”
—Lois Lockwood (No. 33), Scout Communications Inc.
“Always stop to talk to customers, employees and suppliers. Remember that, as the boss, everyone is watching you. You really have to walk the walk.”
—Teresa Spinelli (No. 29), Italian Centre Shop Ltd.
“You quite often hear people suggesting that you should identify your weaknesses and strive to improve in those areas. Frankly, that’s nonsense, because the best outcome possible there is that you will have stronger weaknesses. Do what you do best, and hire smart people to do the rest.”
—Chandra Clarke (No. 96), Scribendi Inc. & Inklyo
“There are some things you won’t do well and won’t like doing. Don’t punish yourself and others by trying to do them yourself.”
—Claudia Sjoberg (No. 39), Atlantis Programs Inc. & Pedalheads Bike Camps Inc.
“If you don’t have an assistant you are the assistant. Delegate your work so you can work on the company rather than in it.”
—Aneela Zaib (No. 43), Emergitel Inc.
“Take the time to get to know your team, and encourage them. The number one thing is to really believe they can do what’s asked of them. If they feel you believe in them, they will just soar.”
—Kelly Robertson (No. 25), Safety Express Ltd.
“Network like you are getting paid and your rent check depends on it.”
—Marija Pavkovic Tovissi (No. 66), MaKami College Inc. & MVP & Associates Ltd.
“Be brutally honest with yourself. Make decisions that you can live with. It is hard, but it makes for a very rewarding career.”
—Rita Cheng (No. 72), Superior Tofu Ltd.
“Set goals, in writing, so you know when to celebrate. The challenges will always be there, but you cannot forget to celebrate what you’ve achieved.”
—Maureen Lucas (No. 27), LucasWorks Inc.