Leadership development is an ongoing process and it’s up to you to evaluate how you’re progressing towards your goals and what you can do to ensure you keep moving forward. You have to take stock of the impact you have on others, how well you develop the talents of your employees, your own industry and leadership knowledge and whether you have strong strategic need.
The August 2013 issue of Essence Magazine has an article that features ways for black women to guide their careers toward higher rungs on the professional ladder. (Essence Magazine, August 2013, “Leaning in or Left Out”, Michelle Burford).
The article addresses categories such as:
1) Advocating for yourself
2) Taking risks
3) Seeking feedback
4) Asking for what you deserve
5) Managing work-life balance
How well do you do these things?
Black Women in Business is a community for black women leaders—those employed by companies or nonprofits and entrepreneurs—to discover and act on ways to develop themselves as leaders and to connect with other accomplished women. Over the next few months, we will explore how to develop and leverage your leadership image, starting with an overview of how black women in leadership roles are perceived. We’ll talk about how to develop strategic networks and more things to help you grow as a leader.
Join us for the first in a series of professional development sessions (upcoming events) and continue to build your skills to grow as a leader.
Do you know how you’re perceived as a leader by others? What have you done to develop your personal brand as a leader? Do you know where to start?
If you’re interested in attending the professional development sessions to help you with this, go to
The connection with other women who are passionate about being good leaders and helping others to become good leaders is important. Many times, inspiration, advice and role modeling from other good leaders can be one of the best teachers. Throughout history and in current times, we have the examples set by great leaders who are black women. Here are a few:
1) Mary McLeod Bethune: In 1904, she founded a school for young African-American girls which later became Bethune-Cookman University.
2) Madame C. J. Walker:
What do you think about this list? Who is missing? What lessons can we learn from them?
Is Perception Reality?
Are you aware of your leadership image? Have you put time into personally crafting it, or has it “just happened” as you took on more responsibility, began managing larger staff and/or grew your business? If it just happened, you may not be aware of how you’re perceived or whether you’re truly using your strengths to get the most out of your team and to get the most out of yourself. If you focused on developing your personal brand as a leader, do you continuously monitor your brand’s effectiveness and whether it aligns with who you are or your vision of who you want to be as a leader?
How do you find out? Well, there are a few ways:
1) 360º assessments are a great way to get feedback from the people you interact with most in your leadership role: your team, your boss, your colleagues. Since you’re hearing others’ perceptions and experiences of you, you might need a thick skin. The key is to be open to the feedback and if necessary, work with a coach or other mentor to determine how to move forward.
2) Self-Assessments are a great way to begin or further assist with the introspection needed to set your own course and understand your strengths and challenges. As a seasoned leader, you’ve probably done a variety of these: Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator®, DISC® profile, Clifton StrengthsFinder and more. You may be able to do some of the assessments on your own and others will need to be provided to you and reviewed by someone who is certified to interpret the instrument.
3) Of course, simply talking with and getting feedback from trusted sources can also help. This can be a mentor, your boss, colleagues who regularly see you interact with your staff and other colleagues. You can also ask your staff, however, you have to make sure that you’ve created an environment in which they can be candid and feel heard.
Do you have a personal leadership brand? How have you built it? What tools have helped you?