Women & Leadership: How to claim your place among the #LowcountryLeader set

By Dr. Karen Mitchell

Are you a woman in the Lowcountry making things happen? We know you are, and we need you to shout that from the rooftops, or at least into the vast and influential digital world. Because, sadly, the concept of female leadership here is not as recognized as it should be – at least according to the popularity of Instagram hashtags. A recent search of #FemaleLowcountryLeader brought zero results. Zero.

But we know that’s not the answer. We know that female leaders are here, making big things happen in the Lowcountry. The impact of female leaders is rising, and within our Spanish moss-draped, tree-lined streets, that is no exception. And we know that women are poised to be impactful leaders. The results from a survey seeking to understand what characteristics are most desired in leaders clearly showed the power and possibilities of female leadership. Eight of the top ten competencies that made the list were classified as feminine, including being intuitive, collaborative and flexible.

It’s exciting to think about the impact women are having. But let’s also be honest; here in the Lowcountry, as female leaders, we need to be more intentional about the idea of leadership. It takes a little more effort to claim our seat at the Lowcountry leader table. So, how do we do it?

We need to acknowledge that we are making things happen

First and foremost, we need to own our accomplishments. I have spent so many years downplaying my accomplishments – and I’ve seen countless other strong, impactful women leaders do it too. That needs to stop. We are never going to claim our spot amongst the leadership of the Lowcountry if we don’t own and promote what we are doing. It’s not about bragging. It’s about having the same confidence men do in owning their accomplishments, and shining a spotlight on our impact.

We need to be visible

Sitting back and waiting for things to happen is not the answer. As female leaders, we need to create our own opportunities and not be afraid to speak out. For many women, we fall into the perfectionist trap. And that may cause us to hesitate in new situations and not speak our mind; we may hold back because we are afraid of making a mistake. But leadership is about being visible and taking the risk to share new and innovative ideas. It’s about being seen, and speaking up.

We cannot think small

I was recently asked if I was ready to level up my business. And honestly, if I were a man, I don’t think there would be a moment of hesitation. But as women who are juggling so much, and as we sometimes doubt our abilities, there can be a moment of pause. But if we want to truly embrace the idea of being an impactful and inspiring female Lowcountry leader, we need to do exactly that. We need to level up in a way that is attainable – but still stretches us to take risks and aim high.

The Lowcountry is full of opportunities right now. And we are ready to take our place as influential female leaders. We need to embrace the challenges that face us and realize our potential. And with that, I’ll be adding #FemaleLowcountryLeader to all my posts and invite you to keep that same spirit in mind (small steps lead to big things!) Because I know we are out there, and our impact is only going to grow.

Dr. Karen Mitchell is the Founder of Cottage Insights, whose mission is to help women become more impactful and influential leaders. www.cottageinsights.com

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