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: Do less. Lead more.

As you prepare for the week ahead, here's a reminder that no matter what you're working on, you don't have to do it alone. Want ...

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 ...

Our Top 50 Quotes About Leadership for 2016 (Slideshow)

Every Monday morning at BeLeaderly.com we post one of our favorite quotes about leadership, to help you take the lead... like a boss! Here are 50 ...

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 ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

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

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

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

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

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

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 ...

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 ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

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

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

Want to be Excited on Monday Morning? Be an Intrapreneur.
Want to be Excited on Monday Morning? Be an Intrapreneur.

“While it’s true that every company needs an entrepreneur to get it under way, healthy

4 Hidden Ways to Take Risks — And Propel Your Career Forward
4 Hidden Ways to Take Risks — And Propel Your Career Forward

“Have big dreams. You will grow into them.” — Unknown If you’re looking for a

How to Have a Thicker Skin for Negative Feedback
How to Have a Thicker Skin for Negative Feedback

Everyone agrees that it’s a smart practice to ask for feedback. Don’t walk through life with

Leaderly Quote: Don’t be a “lone ranger.”
Leaderly Quote: Don’t be a “lone ranger.”

“How do you know when you’re breaking too many rules?” I asked this question of

Learn to Become a Fierce Negotiator With Our Latest Infographic!
Learn to Become a Fierce Negotiator With Our Latest Infographic!

We hope you love our visual take on tips to help you negotiate like a

4 Sloppy Speech Habits that Undermine Your Influence
4 Sloppy Speech Habits that Undermine Your Influence

At what point would you stop listening to a speaker who opens with: “So, OK,

Asking for a Raise in the Age of #MeToo
Asking for a Raise in the Age of #MeToo

Thinking of asking for a raise? “The old negotiating adage still rings true: if you

Leaderly Quote: Demote your inner perfectionist
Leaderly Quote: Demote your inner perfectionist

For some of us active and recovering perfectionists, we await feedback holding out hope that if

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles this Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles this Month

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

3 Ways to be a Strategist, Not a Tactician
3 Ways to be a Strategist, Not a Tactician

“You need to be more strategic.” Many aspiring leaders have heard this type of feedback

Be Leaderly Spotlight: Selena Rezvani
Be Leaderly Spotlight: Selena Rezvani

We’re thrilled to welcome Selena Rezvani to the Be Leaderly team, and to her new role

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Erin Lo
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Erin Lo

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

How to Go After Awards and Recognition (and Win)
How to Go After Awards and Recognition (and Win)

Just last week, a Director at a well-regarded business school explained to me that she

Leaderly Quote: Don’t let fear steal your dreams
Leaderly Quote: Don’t let fear steal your dreams

“Don’t let fear steal your dreams.” — Sabina Nawaz

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 2018, Be Leaderly