How Women Rise: Part 4  

Big Picture Thinking and Lifelong Learning Lead to Long Term Success

 By Cerrina Jensen with Amy Evans and Lisa Hutcherson


This is the fourth 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 back on the calendar for April 7-9, 2021 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort just outside Las Vegas.

To recap what we shared in our previous installments, 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, compliments of Amy Evans, is, “Women often focus on doing their current job well, which can generate recognition and rewards. But they have a habit of keeping their focus on the job in front of them, rather than looking ahead and taking the steps needed to get to the next level. This can result in slower (or even non-existent) career advancement in comparison to male peers. Have you put your job before your career? Was there a point at which you deliberately decided to be more strategic about your career development? If so, what steps did you take?”

 Special thanks to Lisa Hutcherson for taking this one on with a thoughtful and eye-opening response, as follows.

“The answer would be yes and yes. Earlier in my career I would say that my focus was about proving my worth and value by simply focusing on the job I was hired to do. Making sure that I outshined, outworked and outlasted my peers. In many ways it was about surviving the day-to-day grind of the ‘job’, short term thinking.

However, the point I became more strategic about my career or I like to call it my ‘purpose’ is when I began to think about my career as a long-term investment in myself and the company that I was representing. I started taking into account the tapestry of my work experiences and moved them to the next level. Doing this had a profound impact on me professionally and for those that I had the amazing opportunity to lead. Below are the specific turn of events that took place, when I became more intentional about my own development. Here are some of my ‘Aha!’ moments:

  1. I wanted the company to succeed and play a part in that development. I began thinking about how I could impact the company’s growth, even in my off time.
  2. Professional growth and personal growth takes time. I began my journey and love for becoming a student of business (SOB). There is always room to learn something new and I intentionally looked for ways to stay relevant in my career, particularly as a woman. The markets and the tides in business are constantly changing. COVID-19 has taught me this in a real, tangible way.
  3. I found that being in an organization that I love and respect is important. Additionally, that same love and respect needed to be reciprocated. This is where I spent time and energy building my reputation, making connections, while working my way up the ladder.
  4. The biggest turn of events was when I began to lead others in their career journeys. Many of the people I have had the honor to lead desired to grow, just like I wanted to. So it became a personal and professional mission to teach and lead those through their own individual career journeys. I think long and hard about how I lead others and do my very best to equip them to stay the course and have big picture thinking and activities that will sustain them long term.

The tactical steps I took:

The first thing I did was find my own unique flavor and style in the art of leadership and mentorship. Creating a routine of learning and skill set sharpening paid off.

I set weekly, monthly and annual goals:

  • Study and observe others who are doing what I aspire to. Internalize the skills and practice them over and over again.
  • Attend online courses on leadership, relationship building and valuing others.
  • Read one to two books a month on relevant topics that will help me move ahead in relationships and also in my career.
  • Annually attend a national or statewide conference to engage others in my field that know more than me and learn something new that’s bigger than my local marketplace.

When the rubber really meets the road, I know without a doubt that if you have a career that you love, it’s a long term, enjoyable journey that can change your life.”

Cerrina’s comments: Like Lisa, I encountered a series of events that helped me grow and evolve by presenting challenges, breakthroughs, and even breaking points. These, in turn, became making points. She’s also spot on with the absolute game changing commitment to lifelong learning. Bar none, I’ve observed that the leaders I most admire, both male and female, are also lifelong learners. Never satisfied that they know it all, they also seem to be those most willing to share wisdom, insights and lessons learned with others.

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