Overcoming Challenges as a Female CEO

Challenges of a Female CEO - Ruffle Mentoring

“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on” – Serena Williams

My ability to stand confidently and authentically as a CEO was born from being thrust into unknown territory and overcoming challenges as a female CEO.

Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning, it was a constant crusade to be seen, heard, and valued. However, over time, I began to develop a solid framework that became my signature for navigating pretty much everything!

Because in overcoming challenges as a female CEO, I discovered a hidden 4-step formulation that became my strategy for being an authentic CEO.

And now I am sharing these 4 steps to help you too.

The great news is that I use this framework to this day to give me the answers to complex issues that I need.

Over the years, I gathered information from a diverse range of role models and brilliant minds. This, coupled with my own knowledge, has brought me positive change in both my professional and personal life.

Remember, our business and personal life are so entwined. By developing our own powerful framework, our entire life will benefit!

Here’s how I did it…

1. Be Curious and ask Questions

Without a doubt, what helped greatly in overcoming challenges as a female CEO was leaning on my natural state of curiosity.  Beginning with asking questions of senior leaders to unpack and understand their part of the business. For instance, how did they see the role of the association I led as integral to their area? Asking these questions helped me in understanding the role in the broader objectives of the organisation and what sort of challenges and opportunities they saw for my area? This allowed me in seeking to understand what was required and demonstrating that I was willing to receive feedback to improve and grow.

2. What changed?

Without a doubt it turned things around. After 12 months in, I started to see a shift in recognition of my contribution. Granted, it was a gradual transition, but things were changing.  For one thing, I was asked for my views at meetings, I was given greater autonomy and I began to feel more accepted as an equal. All the while still being me.

With all this in mind, let me share my most valued tips.

1. Listen

In particular, listen to connect and remain open and curious. I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where we don’t feel heard and have been talked over. Of course, this isn’t nice for anyone. Effective listening truly is an artform and leads to great conversations where everyone feels acknowledged leading to a collaborative outcome that is greater than it would have been from just one person’s efforts.

2. Stay Open to New Ideas

It’s easy to stay in our lane and stick to how we have always thought and done things. It’s liberating to take on new ideas and do things differently. It allows us to expand and demonstrates our flexibility and eagerness to grow and overcome the challenges of being a female CEO.

3. I don’t have all the answers and that’s OK!

It is OK! We can’t know everything and again, it’s demonstrating that you are human but Oh-so ready to learn. I have great respect for colleagues who can show their vulnerability and it in no way makes me think any less of them. It’s the exact opposite in fact.

4. Surround myself with an A-Board Advisory team

You know the old saying! If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. This has been proven over and over again. I choose to seek counsel from those I observe around me who are achieving great things, both in their career and building a team who are happy and feel valued. When you look at it like that, why wouldn’t you?

Are you ready to grow?

All these steps have been and still are the backbone to my growth. It’s as important today as when I started my journey.

In my role it was a constant crusade to be seen, heard and importantly my input valued. I had to rapidly figure out how to navigate this space.

How are you going to forge your path towards being a confident and authentic leader today?

Just remember… you’re not alone. With an ever-growing directory of successful, passionate female mentors you can rest assured that you will find the help and guidance you need to achieve your business goals.

I look forward to hearing of your successes!

finding your voice - women with cup of coffee

Author, Anne Wicking is a CEO & Executive Mentor and offers 1:1 Mentoring and Coaching to help you on your path to success.


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