Are You Thriving as a Leader?
Select a question to learn more:
One must pass through the circumference of time before arriving at the center of opportunity.
—Baltasar Gracián, Baroque writer and philosopher
You are leading, but are you thriving?
You have already “arrived” by all accounts. You are a leader. You have stepped in and stepped up. But there is more for you. An opportunity to intentionally thrive and create a greater impact for yourself and others. As you contemplate how much more you wish to invest of yourself to lead, it is time we talk about what it takes not just to arrive but also to thrive.
Are you getting the support required to thrive? Do you know how to ask for it? How do you thrive as a formidable leader while combating systemic barriers and unexpected challenges that add complexity? What is a realistic picture of leading for you that is framed by you and other leaders who are creating a new inclusive working world? How are you managing your best self and bringing out the best in others as you navigate the demands of life? What stories are you repeating in your head about who you “should be”?
If some of these questions leave you wondering, here is your first bit of wisdom to arrive and thrive: your thoughts and feelings are normal, and you are not alone. In fact, our hope is that as you read this book, you realize you are never alone. We are not meant to do much of anything alone, and through this book we want you to feel supported as you navigate from wherever you are. We know firsthand that as women rise into positions of greater responsibility and leadership, the risks associated with sounding, experiencing, or looking vulnerable become greater and greater. The “veneer of perfection” too often takes hold and robs women leaders of the ability to be real. Forced into being something or showing up as something women leaders think they should be (or are expected to be, given norms set mostly by men) keeps the cycle of “got to prove myself” or “not good enough” going. As a result, they feel there is little margin for error.
We authors have been in your shoes. We know you are not only curious, you are open to and wanting advice. You have the ideas, a drive to succeed, and the ability to empower others. The world needs you. A world with more successful, thriving women leaders is a better world for all of humankind.
The world also needs better, more diverse leadership, and the gender gap remains much too wide. Senior women in leadership deserve to thrive when they arrive, but hard-won practical and applicable wisdom from other leaders about the essential and most impactful practices that can help ensure success is needed. Women’s leadership and decision-making have never
been more urgent. The pandemic of the coronavirus (Covid-19) reared its submicroscopic head in December of 2019 and brought unprecedented consequences to the world in a span of six months, especially for women. An October 2020 Deloitte report, “Understanding the Pandemic’s Impact on Working Women,” found that nearly 7 out of 10 women who experienced negative shifts in their routine because of the pandemic believe their career progression will slow down.
We now know that a pandemic has the power to unravel our livelihoods, lifestyles, and turn our lives inside-out . . . swiftly. Seems ominous, we know, but it’s not all bad news: a mass reset is happening. Pandemic-era realities have been intensified by the long-overdue awareness of the urgent need for racial justice and with it, total equity of opportunity for all citizens regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, ability, or sexual orientation. We have been learning and confronting fears, concerns, and cautions at warp speed—and facing them with courage.
In tandem, much attention is being paid to the creation of gender balance in leadership. The solutions—the programs, sponsors, and resources—that help women not only arrive at the top but thrive there will only increase, and for good reason: companies with gender-balanced leadership perform better. But how to do that effectively—how to make sure that women leaders succeed— is still an underexamined topic.
Navigating our leadership journey focuses on movement and requires intention and awareness and then agility-in-action. The practices in this book take you from learning to doing by guiding your movement as you intentionally arrive and thrive. Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership ushers in critical and original advice for women facing disruptions that have little to no precedent. We knew it was time to boldly convey deep insights based on our own experiences and revelations. And we knew it could not wait. Let us introduce ourselves.
Janet Foutty is executive chair of the board for Deloitte US, the largest professional services organization in the United States. She previously was the chair and CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP. Janet is a frequent author and public speaker with executive level audiences about the changing business landscape, leadership, corporate governance, crisis resiliency, equity, and technology disruption. Her thought leadership has appeared in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and the Wall Street Journal. Janet is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace; women in technology; and the need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. She has founded Women in Technology groups in India and the United States.
Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten
A seasoned academic and an expert on organizational development and transformation, Lynn Perry Wooten, PhD, became the ninth president and first African American to lead Simmons University on July 1, 2020. Specializing in crisis leadership, diversity and inclusion, and positive leadership—organizational behavior that reveals and nurtures the highest level of human potential—Lynn is an innovative leader whose research has informed her work in the classroom and as an administrator. She first joined a university faculty in 1994 and has served in administrative roles since 2008. Lynn came to Simmons from Cornell University, where she was the David J. Nolan Dean and professor of management and organizations at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. She also has had a robust clinical practice, providing leadership development, education, and training for a wide variety of institutions. Lynn is the author of two books and dozens of journal articles and book chapters.
Susan MacKenty Brady
A working mom of two teenage daughters, Susan MacKenty Brady’s journey stems from a career in leader development with a focus on self-awareness and relational leadership. She has a “two-sided business card” professional identity: one as accomplished revenue driver and business leader; the other, leadership author and truth-telling humorist, and inspiring keynote speaker. Her insight is informed by 20 years of work in the fields of advancing women leaders and inclusive leadership, which has led to three previous highly acclaimed books. As the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Chair for Women and Leadership at Simmons University and the CEO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership, Susan is committed to seeing equity in leadership in her lifetime. She believes the path to more peace and joy and less guilt and harshness as well as to better leadership is learning how to return to compassion (see Practice 1 for more on this!). Simultaneously, our perspectives are backed by top-notch research and tools from our organizations, Deloitte and Simmons University.
Drawing on decades of our professional experience and our own personal insights, we want you to arrive and thrive. We have teamed up with and brought along well-recognized leaders who share their personal stories and insights exclusively and uniquely here to bring you the 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership:
- Practice 1: Investing in Your Best Self. Lead from the best part of yourself—and ensure you tend to your mind, body, and spirit for continual renewal.
- Practice 2: Embracing Authenticity. Bring your whole self to work with intention and ease.
- Practice 3: Cultivating Courage. Commit to action, alongside acknowledging and overcoming your fear of doing so.
- Practice 4: Fostering Resilience. Keep up with the pace and intensity while overcoming setbacks and emerging stronger than before.
- Practice 5: Inspiring a Bold Vision. Enroll others in a mission that awakens their spirit and desire to create a future that does not yet exist.
- Practice 6: Creating a Healthy Team Environment. Personify your organization’s values and standards while creating an environment that is supportive, collaborative, and healthy.
- Practice 7: Committing to the Work of the Inclusive Leader™. Model the way for others while creating the culture of equity and inclusion needed for high performance.
We want you to see each practice as something you can come back to and work on over time, as you grow and as the context of your personal and professional life changes. Each practice offers a distillation of the best wisdom we could glean for you about every impactful practice, including wisdom from:
- Our own unique experience and learning
- The latest and most respected research and literature available
- Thought leader expert advice
- Leadership tips and stories from sitting or recently retired executives
- Tools for activation
Feeling supported wherever you are in this moment and in each milestone is critical as you evolve the 7 Impactful Practices. And you should know that others have tread similar territory in their positions of greater responsibility; they faced risk, turned adversity into opportunity, and led others through motivation and inspiration. That’s why we felt it was conducive to bring in diverse outside voices with their own stories of impact, along with advice on the practices based on their own unique experiences.
- Gail Boudreaux, president and CEO, Anthem
- Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO, Pfizer, author of Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible
- Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business, coauthor of The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias
- Helen Drinan, president emerita, Simmons University
- Tiffany Dufu, Founder and CEO, The Cru, author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less
- Sandra Fenwick, former CEO, Boston Children’s Hospital
- Jen Fisher, chief well-being officer, Deloitte, coauthor of Work Better Together
- Bill Flynn, author of Further, Faster: The Vital Few Steps to Take the Guesswork out of Growth
- Beth Ford, president and CEO, Land O’Lakes Inc.
- Carla Harris, vice chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor, Morgan Stanley, author of Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace
- Jim Harter, chief scientist, Gallup, coauthor Wellbeing at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams
- Sally Helgesen, author of How Women Rise
- Dan Helfrich, chairman and CEO, Deloitte Consulting, LLC
- Linda Henry, CEO, The Boston Globe
- Whitney Johnson, CEO, Disruption Advisors, author of Disrupt Yourself: Master Relentless Change and Speed up Your Learning Curve
- Natalie Martinez, CEO, Strong Women Strong Girls Inc.
- Indra Nooyi, former chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, author of My Life in Full
- Jill Robinson, CFO, Atlanta Braves
- Richard Safeer, MD, medical director of Employee Health, Wellness & Innovation, Johns Hopkins HealthCare
- Gen. Chuck Wald, president, Wald Strategy International, LLC
- Amy Weaver, president and CFO, Salesforce
Our contributors are proven leaders who bring industry and domain knowledge combined with the depth of leadership wisdom we know is necessary for getting it right.
Each practice presents a self-awareness and self-practice orientation, along with an other-based orientation, spanning individual application and broader team/culture application. Simply put, Arrive and Thrive is not the “next recipe for women’s success” but rather offers fresh insights about the practices that, when not intentionally and continually implemented, lead to suboptimal impact, or worse, professional burnout. The paradigm for women for far too long has been about surviving—if you are lucky enough to arrive at the top. The 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership enable women to thrive and, in so doing, help others thrive as well.
As you rise into your position of greater responsibility, risk, and reward, this book offers the groundwork for making effective and fulfilling choices for yourself, your team, your industry, and even your community. Navigating senior leadership is hard enough for anyone in this complex world, and women face even more challenges. The gendered context we live in makes it harder for women to rise into positions of leadership, and we want you to feel a new level of support and practical wisdom as you navigate your journey from here.
Let’s get started, shall we?