Saturday, December 10, 2022

Do You Use Your Voice to Lift Up Women Leaders?


Do you know today’s significance? On this date in 1869, the legislature of the territory of Wyoming passed America’s first woman suffrage law, granting women the right to vote and hold office. In 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state admitted to the Union and became the first state to allow women the right to vote.

To celebrate today’s significance, I’ve invited Susan Colantuono to return to my Blog for a conversation about women leaders, supportive men in the workplace, leadership, and RBG.

But first, a brief introduction…Susan Colantuono is an expert on women's advancement, author, and speaker. She is best known for her TED Talk on the Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get (which has over 4 million views) and her books, “No Ceiling, No Walls” and “Make the Most of Mentoring.” She is the founder and former CEO of Leading Women, a global consulting firm focused on women's advancement. Now, as a co-host of A Career that Soars!, she continues to provide leadership and career development to women around the globe.

QUESTION: You appeared on my blog in a Q&A in August 2021. During our inspiring convo, you said, “Surrounding oneself with smart and capable colleagues is one hallmark of great leaders.” How can new leaders overcome their big egos and embrace this important leadership tip?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: People who are new to leadership positions (not all of whom would fulfill my definition of leadership!) navigate three major transitions.

First from individual contributor to first-line manager. This is the first hurdle when it comes to tapping smart and capable colleagues, because, in most cases, they make this leap because of their excellent professional performance. It’s easy here to not know how to delegate and rely on others because there’s been no experience. And if they don’t learn, they will fail.

By the time a person transitions into the “muddle in the middle,” which can be all positions from manager to senior manager, and involve managing individuals or teams or teams of teams, they have a basic understanding that they will not succeed without engaging the greatness in others.

And at the executive level, when one manages functions and business units, it is impossible to be the only one in the room who knows everything. So, to me, the answer to your question is success on the way up requires the learning of this lesson…and if someone hasn’t learned it due to a huge ego, they will ultimately fail.

TWEET THIS: Surrounding oneself with smart and capable colleagues is one hallmark of great leaders. ~@SusanColantuono #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: At the executive level…it is impossible to be the only one in the room who knows everything. ~@SusanColantuono #Leadership #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: In a recent post on the website entitled, “Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff leans in to being a voice for gender equality,” he said, “I found where I can really make a difference is just trying to use my voice to lift women in leadership up.” What are the qualities women should look for in men who can be good mentors and help them to earn promotions and C-Suite roles?

(Read the post here:

SUSAN COLANTUONO: I was so happy to read the profile on Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. The media has pretty much ignored him (as they have the consequential portfolio that VP Kamala Harris is handling). I'd say the two most important things to look for in good mentors (and perhaps sponsors) are:

  1. A skill set that matches the woman's development needs especially as it relates to providing mentoring on business, strategic, and financial acumen.
  2. A willingness to advance women (past evidence or current interest).

QUESTION: You wrote a memorable book in 2010 entitled, “No Ceiling, No Walls: What women haven't been told about leadership from career-start to the corporate boardroom.” What are five key take-aways you hope readers will have?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: Debbie, thank you for describing No Ceiling, No Walls as memorable. I am constantly touched by women who’ve told me it transformed their careers. The top five takeaways I hope readers have are:

  1. Leadership manifests at every level from career-start to the C-Suite.
  2. Career advancement rests on the foundation of proven and perceived leadership, which means “using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others.”
  3. There is a missing 33% of the career success equation for women. This translates to the fact that most of us have to get better at developing and/or demonstrating our business, strategic, and financial acumen.
  4. The key to demonstrating business, strategic, and financial acumen is learning to use The Language of Power.
  5. Using the metaphor of a diamond ring, many women don’t need to polish the diamond, we often need to strengthen its setting. In other words, because women are perceived as great at interpersonal and team skills, it’s a better use of our time to strengthen our business, strategic, and financial acumen rather than polish our interpersonal and team skills.

QUESTION: There is a new role in some C-Suites: Chief Happiness Officer. What do you make of this, and can it, or should it, become standard in all organizations?

(Read the post here:

SUSAN COLANTUONO: Fast Company has a pretty good article about the trend to hire Chief Happiness Officers. Here’s what I think, and I mirror some of the points in the article. Employee engagement rests on four key factors: meaningful work, a good manager, respectful colleagues, and equitable pay and benefits.

If the responsibility of the Chief Happiness Officer includes action in these four areas, I think the position has merit. If the company envisions the responsibility as including event planning, foosball tables, and corporate swag, it’s a waste of money.

QUESTION: Lastly, what’s your favorite RBG (former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) quote, and why?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: I so admire Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and one of my favorite t-shirts reads: "VOTE, we’re Ruthless (pun intended). "There are SO many great quotes from her that I’m going to choose two:

“When I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that.”

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsible for her own choices.”

My profound thanks to Susan for returning to my blog and sharing her inspiring thoughts.

Image Credit: (Women's Democratic Club of Utah).

Connect with Susan at these links:
Susan's website:
Twitter:  @SusanColantuono

Read my first Q&A featuring Susan at this link:

To read more about today’s historical significance, check out this link:

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