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Career Advice

Six skills for personal and professional growth

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated July 25, 2022
|5 min read

The number of women in leadership is growing. But for many, recognizing their own potential isn’t always easy.  For Women’s History Month, international business leaders took to Twitter via Forbes to share their advice on the top skills to unlock leadership potential at any age, at any stage, and in any career. Narrowing in on a few key skills can help anyone find their unique way to shine and progress on their journey.

From engineers and filmmakers to founders and C-Suite leaders, and more, here are a few insights shared by a diverse, multigenerational group of women on where to start with personal and professional growth. 

1. Broaden your perspective

Expand your point of view by learning everything you can about your main focus at work and the impact it makes on customers and the community at large. How does it help the business? What are customers saying about it in the marketplace? It’s just as important to “zoom in” to understand details as it is to “zoom out” and see the big picture of a whole organization, says Madeline Salazar, a manager of digital manufacturing transformation at Northrop Grumman Corporation. She explains that it’s important to tune into the specifics but also see the overall impact of your work. Let your curiosity be your guide as you cull new insights and broaden your expertise about your industry and the world. 

You can also tap into professional development opportunities and learn new skills that can benefit you in surprising ways.  For example, Jenny Just, co-founder of PEAK6 technology investment firm says women who take the time to learn and practice poker for fun (not gambling) are better prepared for finance careers making high-stakes decisions than those who limit their training to academics. 

2. Express empathy

Establish and maintain meaningful relationships with people no matter their job title or status in society, says COO Lori Holz at Lobus. This isn’t about networking, landing the next job, or getting ahead.  It’s about building connections that may make a difference in your life at a later time. 

CEO of H20k Innovations Annie Lu adds that another way to show empathy is to get to know people from diverse backgrounds. Collaborate, listen, and show genuine interest and empathy for colleagues who have different perspectives. This can give you the foundation you need to grow, communicate effectively, and motivate diverse team members. 

3. Find your courage

SpaceX and NASA engineer Suman Sherwani says there’s nothing better for leadership development than leaping into the unknown. When faced with an unfamiliar problem, it’s normal to feel scared and doubt yourself, but you can solve anything if you take it step by step, little by little, she says. It may be a painful process, but it's worth it. 

The same can be true for new leadership opportunities, says CEO Kerrie Hoffman of Get Digital Velocity who recommends that when offered any leadership opportunity, grab it. Real-world leadership experience —even if it's a fail — quickly yields new skills and abilities. 

4. Be your authentic self

When we try so hard to make a great first impression, we may take on personality traits we think people will like and lose ourselves in the process. A great way to find and continue to discover yourself is through tapping into your favorite hobbies or talents, says Hanan Sayed Worrell, an engineer and specialist in urban and cultural project development and the author of Table Tales, The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. As you’re striving to reach the next level of your career, stay connected to other activities that bring you the most joy — anything from music and art to cooking.  Share your passion with your coworkers to give them a greater sense of who you are. 

5. Focus on self-care 

Just as we get regular physical check-ups, stay aware of how you’re feeling mentally too. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help when you need it. Filmmaker Lexi Underwood speaks to how simple practicing wellness daily can be.  

Part of wellness is also choosing the right friends and life partners. Surround yourself with people who deserve to be in your life, says Anna Maria Chávez, president and CIO of Encantos. Spend your time with those who have your best interest at heart, support your growth, and delight in your achievements. 

6. Build your resilience

The current reality of the world — living through a global pandemic, surviving natural disasters and troubling political climates — can wear you down. But facing these issues and finding the opportunity is how you find your resilience. For example, if there is an issue affecting the country or world that you’re passionate about, figure out a way to help in your local community. You may even turn this into a major business venture, explains CEO Adriana Aristizabal of iVoice Communications. 

These skills can help you learn and grow both personally and professionally whether you already lead a team or want to show your peers that you have what it takes. Keep circling back and cultivating your skills over the course of your career.