How Women Rise: Part 5 Resistance to Change


This is the fifth installment of a multi-part series which features a question based on the book How Women Rise, by Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen, and responses from some of the speakers slated to present at the 2nd CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit, now rescheduled for April 7-9, 2021 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort just outside Las Vegas.

As a reminder, while this series focuses on female leadership and the 12 habits covered in the book that can hamper success, it’s meant to shed light on these issues for not just women but the men we work, live and play alongside.

This month’s question is compliments of Amy Evans: “Change—and the resistance to it—has been a big discussion topic in the collective consciousness this year,” she said. “As humans, we are wired to follow the path of least resistance, which makes us want to avoid change and the perceived work it will require. As women, we are socialized to get along, be likeable and agreeable, not ‘cause a fuss.’ What has been your experience with change in your professional life, particularly in an industry that is constantly changing? Do you resist change until you run out of other options? Do you embrace change and get excited about new opportunities? Do you lead change and accept your role as a disruptor? Has your relationship to change evolved over your career?”

Our responses this month come from Lisa Hutcherson, Stephanie Berger and Leilani Quiray, all of whom had a fantastic perspective and insights to share.

Lisa Hutcherson:

“My experience with change in my professional life has required a lot of careful interweaving, like making a multi-layered tapestry.

“It has been beautiful on the one hand as I have witnessed the evolution of women entering CEO, VP and senior leadership roles. These women leaders have come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, and they’ve come in all shapes and hues. I have also seen the rough underside that undergirds every woven tapestry, as these women have had to fight continuously to be respected in these new positions.

“I welcome change with open arms, as change always represents new beginnings. Change means new opportunities for fresh ideas to spring forth, and that tends to usher in the rise of new leaders.

“I absolutely consider myself a disruptor in this world. I am not afraid to embrace novel concepts, while operating in my natural ability to build bridges from the old into the new. That can be challenging, as it often requires examining and rethinking stereotypes, expectations, and gender or cultural biases.

The end result is worth it however, as we continue to bust through professional ceilings, making ways for others who have historically been denied the chance to do so, creating for them newly paved paths to walk across.

“Because I have embraced change, my career has evolved in ways that I could never have imagined. It has afforded me unprecedented growth, both professionally and personally. I am more confident than ever and can see my skills measurably increasing each year.

“I move with intentionality, always living out my purpose regardless of the environment. My sincerest hope is to help someone else successfully maneuver through this ever-changing world we live in, teaching them how to win by serving.”

Stephanie Berger:

“It has taken me quite a while to be able to embrace change. While the thought of the unknown still makes me uncomfortable, I am finding that if I view change as an opportunity instead of a threat, I’m much more open minded. When I was younger in my career and less confident in my own abilities, the thought of change was daunting. But as time has passed, I now understand that growth requires change. 2020 has definitely tested me; the unknown scared me. The lack of socialization was emotionally draining. Embracing the virtual world was challenging. But I forced myself to step back and appreciate that the uncertainty of 2020 will eventually lead to positive changes for all of us.”

Leilani Quiray:

“Change is constant! Like Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change” but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The words of my mother ring in my ears when the ‘change’ I am experiencing is difficult. She would say, ‘this too shall pass.’ And it does. So, with my growth I’ve learned to accept all change—good, bad and ugly—and realize when it’s uncomfortable, it is only temporary. Enjoy the process. if I can, I even have fun with it. Change is good…otherwise how would we ever grow?”

Cerrina Jensen

“I don’t think I started out this way, but I am definitely a disruptor, so to speak. Sometimes that is well received and other times it’s not—even by me, myself. I agree with Leilani that even though change can be so necessary, that doesn’t make it easy! My most vivid example is my own recent change, having left my prior employer to join an entirely new team with a very different approach. But as a case in point, even though I didn’t embrace ‘causing a fuss’ as Amy described it in the question, I knew instinctively that the best way out is always right on through. Those instincts have been hard earned, and while sometimes I miss a beat, I’m pretty stoked that I get to keep growing and evolving and learning.”

Stay tuned next month, when we’ll tackle another question!