When you aspire, and all your role models are men, seek a female.
Why is this important? I did not realize until recently (no kidding), that men and women are different. I was naive in my thinking about aspirations and leadership styles, communication styles, coaching, mentoring, and development. I have been on a journey and have come to realize, that you owe it to yourself to seek out role models you respect and can learn from. When you do that, you can center your sights on what you control and take concrete steps toward your aspirations. The reality is, you have more control over your destiny than you realize.
Years ago in Atlanta, I joined an organization called Board of Directors Network (BDN). BDN is dedicated to increasing the number of women in executive ranks and on boards and publishes an annual survey and scorecard of how the top public companies are doing. Last year, I attended the annual dinner when Carol B Tome’ of Home Depot (pictured above) was recognized.
When you read Carol’s bio you will understand half of the equation as to why she is one of my role models. The other half has to do with her story. I have heard many male executive role models speak, yet they did not impact me the way Carol did. When Carol spoke, she blew me away as she outlined – from a woman’s point of view – what it took her to achieve her aspirations. Carol was the first woman I have ever heard speak who walked the talk as 50% of her staff was female. Her speech took us from childhood values, and positive and productive role modeling to saying “yes” to every assignment that comes your way.
Although I do not aspire to her role, Carol is my role model (did I say that already?). She was so authentic in her words and delivery, she made us laugh and cry as she spoke to our hearts. When I hit a crossroad and have a choice or decision to make, her voice and words speak to me.
Carol is not my only role model. I have other role models, including my Grandmother. I learn something from each of my role models – both male and female – yet the reality is, female role models offer important, valuable, and unique perspectives a male never could.
How about you? Do you participate in outside organizations searching for role models? How many have you collected along the way?