March is Women’s History Month, honoring the accomplishments and contributions of women who have shaped the progress of our society and continue to trailblaze for so many generations after.
Women have always been a part of history, but for many centuries, their participation and their accomplishments have been overlooked. Over time, historic strides in legislation and other groundbreaking advancements have changed the narrative of “her” story. National Geographic details a timeline of these transformations and of how Women’s History Month came to be.
To observe this month, we took a reflective approach and considered the very people we surround ourselves with, each and every day: the Nonprofit Resources team. As an independent, woman-owned, and accredited association management company, there is an abundance of achievement and inspiration. We asked our team what thoughts and advice they had for women in leadership.
- What does leadership mean to you?
- What advice would you give young women who is interested in leadership roles?
Kristin Bennett, President and CEO:
Leadership means guiding, deciding, and walking beside our team.
To young women who are interested in leadership roles, my advice is to approach with humility and always know your worth.
Emma Bennett, Vice President:
Leadership to me is connecting ideas and people to a cause worth caring about.
To young women who are interested in leadership, I would advise:
- The best investment you can make is in yourself.
- Say yes to opportunities that excite and/or challenge you.
- Bring your own chair if there is not a seat at the table.
Melissa Thompson, Account Executive, Operations, Human Resources:
Dolly Parton’s quote resonates strongly with me as I think about what makes a good leader:
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
I think great leaders recognize that each person has special gifts and talents. Their people feel heard and seen and want to give their best effort toward the common goal.
Find a mentor you admire or work with a coach early on to help better understand how you might be standing in your own way. Get involved in a professional woman’s group and develop a network of support.
Emily Bremmon, Account Executive: Leadership means paving a path for others follow as they learn and grow, but also giving them the tools and motivation to pave their own path that has the potential to span even greater than your own.
I would suggest finding a professional mentor. Someone that they admire and respect in and out of the workplace, to guide them through the good times and the hard times – because there will be both.
Brittany Quinn, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program Manager, Account Manager :
Leadership to me is the overarching mentality of wanting a collective “best.” They provide a sense of vision or direction so that the team can work on their individual roles, with a greater sense of the mission in mind.
Oftentimes our society celebrates the triumphs of “leaders” and the celebrate the attributes that you may find uncomfortable or even off-putting. Don’t be ashamed of wanting to find your leadership role and don’t be afraid to ask questions and show initiative. A quote that resonates with is from the Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Marisa Ten Brink, Graphic Designer:
To me a leader is someone that has long-term vision for an organization and that demonstrates their values through actions, not just words.
For young women looking at leadership, my advice is to: Carefully consider your whether to answer “yes” or “no” to new opportunities. If you always answer “yes” you will quickly find yourself spread too thin and overwhelmed. However, saying “no” to everything will keep you in the same spot and you risk losing a chance to grow and learn. Give yourself space to reflect on where you are at and where you want to go.
Kristen Thayer, Marketing Manager:
Leadership isn’t just setting the goals and watching your team work towards them, it’s working along with your team to accomplish those goals.
As a woman in a leadership role, there may be extra roadblocks but staying true to yourself and keeping the confidence is what’s going to prove your worth to your position.
Emily Lynch, Administrative Assistant:
To me, leadership is about striking a balance between compassion and performance. It is helping your team reach their full potential and allowing individuals to blossom.
A piece of advice I would give to a young woman looking to gain a leadership role is to recognize your skills, assets, and accomplishments. It is easy to minimize your success due to several factors (age, gender, etc), but holding on to your power is the key.
Jessica McKenna, Administrative Assistant:
Leadership means to me is someone who is a role model, mentor, teacher, and provides guidance. Someone who can help you get over any stepping stones to help you grow as a person and employee.
I would tell young women to go for it. Strive and work hard for any role, whether leadership or not. In my past experience, women in leadership roles can handle more stress, diffuse situations quicker, be firm but kind, and more intuitive and defending in regards to their employees.
Clara Bennett: To me, leadership requires respect and doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
For young women, if you can keep your intentions and actions in line with the greater good, not personal gain, you will go much further in your leadership endeavors.