To Prepare for Leadership Roles, Make Your Wellbeing a Priority

What does it take for a mid-career woman to rise into a senior leadership role? There’s no simple answer to this question, because so many factors affect a woman’s success. It helps if she has clear goals, mentors and sponsors, a supportive network, and an executive coach. It helps if she knows her strengths and how to maximize them as she advances in her career. But there’s also another factor that is often overlooked: her wellbeing.  

Women remain underrepresented across organizations, especially at senior levels of leadership. Many mid-career women begin to question their next steps, and that questioning can quickly turn to apathy, frustration, or even a resigned acceptance of the status quo. 

Because there are so few women in senior roles, climbing to the highest rungs of the career ladder can be a lonely and stressful journey. If you hope to advance into an executive role, it’s essential to prioritize your wellbeing. This is something we work on in Forté Rise, a leadership program designed to help mid-career women develop into executive leaders. It focuses not only on leading others, but also on leading yourself. 

Know Who You Are and What You Want 

Leading yourself starts with knowing yourself well. Take time to look inward so you understand what drives you. Shamis Pitts, owner of Pitts Leadership Consulting LLC, is a Forté Rise faculty member and executive coach. She says, “Knowing why something is important to you enables you to better connect with other people.” 

This self-reflection will also help you be intentional about the choices you’re making. Earlier in her career, Shamis realized that there were elements of how she was designing her work life and her personal life that didn’t support her. Now, before making decisions, she asks herself, “Does this align with my purpose and my vision?” If it doesn’t, she doesn’t do it.   

Figure Out What Wellbeing Means to You 

What would it look like for you to take care of yourself on an emotional, psychological, social, physical, spiritual, and societal level, so that you can show up for yourself in a powerful way at work? Everyone’s answers will be different and they will change over time. Shamis explains, “What works for you today will be different than what works for somebody else today. And what works for you today may be different than what works for you tomorrow.” 

She recommends considering what wellbeing practices have carried you through the past year, and being clear with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. She says, “You want to be able to continue the things that you know are keeping you grounded, well, safe, and healthy.” 

Maybe you like to start your day with a meditation or end your day with a walk. Maybe you find it helpful to do yoga or keep a mindfulness journal. Maybe you need eight hours of sleep to be fully present. Determine what works for you — and build those things into your schedule as part of your wellbeing toolkit.   

Follow Your Vision for Your Career 

Without a specific career plan in place, you may find yourself pulled along by other people’s wants and needs. If you’re tapped for projects or roles that don’t align with your personal mission and purpose, you may not even notice at first, but the work will take a toll on you.  

When you know where you want to go, it’s easier to recognize the path that will get you there. Shamis advises, “Be intentional about your vision and your planning, so that you can have wonderful, textured, intentional, substantive, conversations with your manager, and so that you can move in the in the direction that you want to go.” 

When you have a goal in mind, it’s also easier to recognize how others can support you. If a mentor or sponsor asks, “How can I be helpful?” it’s important to make the most of that opportunity by asking for something meaningful. Knowing yourself and your vision helps you prepare for those conversations and approach them with confidence. 

Take Charge of Your Future 

For more leadership guidance, consider participating in Rise Leadership Program. This three-month virtual program is dedicated to helping mid-career women move their careers forward by focusing on their own leadership strengths. Rise is built on the premise that leadership starts from within. Learn from leadership experts and executive coaches as you develop an authentic leadership style that suits your skills and personality. Interested in being part of our next cohort? Apply now! 

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