Step Up and Lead

Like this on Facebook

“I was dancing around the daisies. I was not really stepping up to lead.”
— Cindy Pace

Cindy Pace, EdD is a remarkable woman. In her day job, she’s Associate Vice President for Global Diversity and Inclusion at MetLife, where she also leads the Global Women’s Initiative. She’s also an adjunct professor at Manhattan College where she teaches in the Masters program in organizational leadership. And she recently received her doctorate in learning and leadership, while working (more than) full-time.

Step Up and Lead

Pace would be the first to admit that she wasn’t always purposeful about placing herself in leadership roles. Early in her career, a defining moment changed all of that when she was thrust into a highly visible leadership role.

A colleague of Pace’s became ill in the middle of planning a global diversity conference. When the colleague needed to take time off, Pace was invited to step up and lead. “My boss came into my office for one of those ‘put on your big girl pants’ conversations and said, ‘Cindy, I need your help. I know that you’ve been contributing and influencing behind the scenes, but I need you to step up and lead this thing. Can you do it?’” Pace recounts.

In that moment, though she was feeling a bit terrified, Pace had the self-awareness to realize, Someone sees the leader in me. I should be seeing the leader in me,” she says.

Pace accepted the challenge and planned the conference, which attracted more than 200 attendees. Her success in the role and the experiences and exposure that came with it changed everything. “It was a turning point in my career, and a turning point in me seeing myself as a leader,” she reflects.

“It’s not that I was quiet,” she clarifies, “but it was not until this particular event that others got to see what I could do in front of the stage, and behind the scenes.” Prior to that push, says Pace, “I did not realize how much I was dancing around the daisies. I was not really stepping up to lead.”

Seed Your Career

In her doctoral research, Pace explored the career aspirations of diverse women as they progressed toward top corporate leadership roles, documenting the lessons they learned along the way.

Through interviews and focus groups with 16 women, Pace uncovered a key finding: Women learn to lead by direct experience with managing people, relationships, and challenging situations. And significantly, they benefited from these experiences within the first five to seven years of their careers. Through these early experiences, the participants built confidence, and embarked on initial trajectories that would ultimately lead to senior leadership roles.

So if you’re starting out your career, say “yes” when someone sees the leader in you, and offers you a chance to practice and develop new leadership skills.

“See yourself as a leader now,” suggests Pace. “Leadership is an action, not only a position. You can lead from where you are by deepening your expertise, playing to your strengths, and leveraging your ‘purpose drivers’─those things that are energizing you.” Don’t wait to break out of your comfort zone and take risks. “Raise your hand and proactively look for opportunities to lead or create those opportunities,” she says.

If you’re waiting for an invitation to lead, forget it. Learn to see the leader in yourself. As Pace says: “Don’t dance around the daisies.” Seed your career with early leadership experiences, and do it sooner, not later.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Leaderly Quote: If you can dream it, you can lead it.

There's a delightful quote that goes, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Inspiring stuff, right? I almost posted it here... but then ...

Ask Jo: Is it better to be liked or respected?

Question: Is it more important for an aspiring leader to be liked or respected? Answer: “Would you rather be liked or respected?” That’s the question ...

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Jamie Woodburn

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

Leaderly Quote: Someone sees the leader in you
Leaderly Quote: Someone sees the leader in you

Sometimes a thought or quote leaves an indelible mark on us. It was more than

What Does it Mean to Have a Sponsor? (Podcast)
What Does it Mean to Have a Sponsor? (Podcast)

What does it mean to have a sponsor? How is a mentor different? And how

The 5 Best Times to Negotiate on The Job
The 5 Best Times to Negotiate on The Job

When we negotiate and fail, the effects can set us back both personally and professionally. Perhaps

Leaderly Quote: Your best relationships are not built…
Leaderly Quote: Your best relationships are not built…

Speaking at a biotech company’s summit for high-potential new hires, executive coach Joe Takash, president

Thank You, Leaderlies
Thank You, Leaderlies

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to know you, our

My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).
My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).

How many of you negotiated your first job offer? I have to admit I didn’t.

Transform Your To-Do List with This Quick Productivity Hack
Transform Your To-Do List with This Quick Productivity Hack

You’re probably familiar with the story for a jar that represents the time available in your life.

Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!
Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!

Could your career use an influential advocate? When you first begin your career, it’s important

Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.
Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.

“Don’t let a dream become a fantasy, which is what happens when you never act

Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization
Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization

“I feel like I’m the best kept secret in this organization,” said Tina. She had

Technology, Peace and Sanity
Technology, Peace and Sanity

A few years ago, I sat down and did some math. I tallied up how

Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are the top articles that other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this

Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams
Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams

Fear steals our dreams. Think about the last time you really longed for something but

Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.
Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.

“See yourself as a leader now. Leadership is an action not a position.” — Cindy Pace,

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly