Glass Ceiling Holding You Back? Here’s How To Break It

glass ceiling

So, you have your sights set on the C-suite and you already know it’s going to take a lot of determination and grit to get there, but do you have a good grip on how to lay the groundwork for your journey and break through the glass ceiling?

When it comes to leading the charge at a company, it’s critical to set a strong foundation to tackle the growing challenges women are facing today. For instance, as a female CEO, I have found that there can be an unconscious expectation that I should be less direct, which is seen negatively when compared to male counterparts. We’re sometimes exuded as “too bossy” or even fall victim to imposter syndrome — when one doubts her own accomplishments.

The fact of the matter is, the glass ceiling is still a very real obstacle, but I’d like to challenge you to break it down. For those on the road to the C-suite, remember these three things as you build your foundation as a female leader:

 Define your personal roadmap.

Look at where you are now, where you want to be and start by putting your goals into a plan. As female leaders, we often have to balance family and work – this is important to consider in your plan and timing. Start simple, adjust as you go and find a few trusted mentors to reach out to for advice. I’ve found that a planning discipline and trusted advisors are critical whether I’m running a five-person team or a 500-person organization.

Reflect on your goals every step of the way. 

Identify professional milestones by assessing progress annually to allow for reflection, adjustment and the evolution of your goals. It’s important to keep in mind that becoming CEO doesn’t happen overnight. Patience and perseverance are not to be underestimated. I had a few years where my goals and aspirations weren’t on track for a myriad of reasons – which required me to step back and ask myself what was really important. Having personal check-ins to reflect on what is no longer relevant, what is holding you back, what you’re passionate about and what you need to develop are critical for growth. A lot can change within a year, and even more in three years. If you’re looking to evolve into leading a company, build your plan and continually evaluate where you are on the path to achieving those goals.

Remember – it’s not a linear process.

Patience, perseverance and honest self-reflection are important traits in leading a large organization. There’s no such thing as a perfect plan. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t always get it 100% right, which is why I adjust quickly if something isn’t working. I say to my team often, “we reserve the right to get smarter,” which helps them understand that it’s ok to adjust our plan. It’s meant to evolve. In our organization, we have a consistent review cadence so we can learn, adjust or accelerate as needed. You need recognize that change and growth are not always a linear process.

And when the glass ceiling is behind you . . .

When you do land that leadership position, make sure to help guide others to define their own plans and set a foundation for success. Remember to empower one another, so we can shatter that glass together.

This guest post was authored by Jennifer Quinlan

As CEO for R2i, Jennifer is responsible for driving R2i’s strategic path to value, market focus, brand positioning, leveraging the agency’s core capabilities, talent resources, and strategic partnerships to drive growth for the company. Jennifer’s experience in rapidly evolving and highly competitive environments makes her a highly sought-after leader to drive change, growth and overall results. She is an accomplished digital transformation leader in technology platforms and enablement, integrated and digital marketing, customer experience and operational enablement. Jennifer brings an emphasis on the use of marketing technology to enable digital experiences and is focused on ensuring R2i delivers measurable outcomes for its clients.


Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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