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Straight Talk from Singular Stars

October 15, 2013

Working as a coach at a conference on “Mentors, Sponsors and Breaking the Glass Ceiling Through Our Allies,” I met a lively group of smart trailblazers.

Reginald Van Lee, EVP at Booz Allen Hamilton, was a memorable one. Warm and witty in person, he accomplished what many struggle with once they reach the podium: making his points in a concise, consumable way.

He recommended that ground breaking leaders of all types cultivate their “4 Cs”:

COURAGE: to excel, to be different.

COMPETENCE: you need to be exceptionally competent when you’re trying to accomplish what few that look, act or think like you do. Accept this and press on.

CONFIDENCE: to attend excellent schools, vie for new roles, pursue powerful relationships. Don’t wait for permission – show up and lead.

COLLABORATION: you can’t do it alone – consciously create alliances. Talk to someone new often. Your network expands your value.

Paula Madison, CEO of the Los Angeles Sparks, was equally forthright and compelling. Some of her comments echoed similar themes:

  • Be bold. “Courage and comfort are not in the same room.”
  • Be an expert, and claim your accomplishments. “I’m proud to be a different kind of leader, a different kind of woman.”
  • Advocate for yourself. No one will care more about your career than you do – you can’t expect others to do more for you than you do for yourself.
  • Attend carefully to feedback. Feedback tells you how you’re showing up.

The audience was energized by these kinds of unvarnished, hard-earned perspectives. If you were to give your own “straight talk” on pointers for pioneering leaders, what would you include?

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