Numerous barriers prohibit people from historically underrepresented communities from contributing fully to the workplace. My research findings undercover the many ways that Asian women transcended into leadership positions in high-profile companies. They navigated the complexity of their organizations while maintaining and honoring the multifaceted aspects of their identities. The leaders spoke about many values. However, three prominent ones emerged 1) caring for others, 2) exhibiting a strong work ethic, and 3) being a continuous learner.
Numerous barriers prohibit people from historically underrepresented communities from contributing fully to the workplace. My research findings undercover the many ways that Asian women transcended into leadership positions in high-profile companies.
They navigated the complexity of their organizations while maintaining and honoring the multifaceted aspects of their identities. The leaders spoke about many values. However, three prominent ones emerged 1) caring for others, 2) exhibiting a strong work ethic, and 3) being a continuous learner.
Value 1: Caring for others
The women described their role as a leader straddling their professional and personal lives. Meaning in all aspects of their life, whether at work, at home, or in their communities, they led from a place of caring for others.
At work, they talked about the importance of helping their direct reports succeed by providing guidance, support, and mentorship as needed. Outside of work, they found ways to contribute by giving back to society (through volunteerism or funding for causes they cared about).
Their desire to support others influences their collaborative approach to leadership. This ability to bring others along helped them go beyond their positional power and also helped them engage their teams and stakeholders in their decision-making process, resulting in positive business outcomes.
By establishing key relationships, the leaders cultivated a strong base of peers, followers, and advocates in their careers.
Value 2: Exhibiting a strong work ethic
Many factors influenced the leaders’ strong work ethics. Some women spoke about contributing factors such as early conditioning to excel in school. Others talked about their self-imposed pressure to acquire the English language quickly to aid their integration into U.S. society.
They also spoke about the influence of role models and mentors who showed that hard work was expected and required to achieve success. As leaders, they maintained high expectations of themselves and for their teams to achieve optimal performance.
Their collaborative approach to leadership led them to seek ongoing feedback from their teams and other stakeholders to support their development as leaders.
Value 3: Continuous learning
The women are lifelong learners motivated to enhance their skills and knowledge beyond their company positions. They learned about subjects related to and unrelated to their profession, sometimes raising their hands for stretch assignments that helped them acquire new skills. The women also talked about hobbies like art and cooking that allow them to flex different skill sets. The continuous learning mindset also helped them apply their team’s feedback to enhance their leadership approach.
Your exercise: Personal values
Self-reflection is valuable yet under-utilized in career advancement. I recommend you consider a retroactive look back at your life.
- Take a page and create three columns.
- In the center column, think about the last ten years of your life, and write down all of the high points and low points you have experienced (both professional and personal). This will take some time for you to think about, so don’t rush through it.
- Once you have spent time identifying the high and low points, in the far left column, note what values helped you get out of the low points.
- Ask yourself if the values you’ve identified will continue to support you in the future. For example, you may have reached this point in your career due to your value of respecting authority or deferring to people in power.
- And ask yourself, as you think about the next leg of your career journey and what you want to achieve, in what ways will this value serve you in the future? What behaviors should you shed moving forward?
Also part of this series: I am a social science researcher who research Asian women in leadership
Disclosure: MyAsianVoice is committed to publishing original and third-party content that is relevant and useful to the Asian female. The content posted are strictly the views of the experts’ or contributors’ own and does not reflect the views of MyAsianVoice.
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