Heather Bresch, CEO, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, is the first woman CEO of a big pharma company, is number 23 on Fortunes Most Powerful Women’s list and is the daughter of United States Senator Joe Manchin. In a brief CNN Money interview, she shared three great quotes about being a woman leader in a business that I would like to share. The first is this:
You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This reminds me of the risk muscle I refer to frequently. If we want to advance in business, be taken seriously in the boardroom and achieve the height of professional success we desire, we are going to have to do things that require a little risk. Speaking of being taken seriously in the boardroom, that leads to the 2nd quote from Bresch’s interview that struck me as important:
I realized that my ideas were just a good as those the men had to offer.
Often as the minority in a male filled room, we tend to keep quiet. OR we apologize before offering our ideas. “This may be a stupid idea but…” “I don’t mean to interrupt but perhaps we could think about…” “Do you think maybe we could try…?” The tone in our voice, the hesitation in our delivery and the very questioning method in which we share our ideas is telegraphing to the room that we are not confident in our ideas or our own reason for being in the room.
As Heather discovered, just because we are the only woman in the room doesn’t mean our ideas are without merit. Realize that. Embrace that. And then OWN that fact!
The last point that Heather makes is a combination of flexing our risk muscle and utilizing our circle of influence:
You have to have doors open for you and then you have to be willing to walk through the door.
I’m reminded of the visual from the children’s Christmas movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We have to put one foot in front of the other to walk through the door of opportunity.
We sometimes have to lean on the guidance of others to help us get started but we are the ones that have to decide to put one foot in front of the other and go through that door of opportunity that is presented to us.
We have to be willing to face challenges, make mistakes and learn new skills if we want to achieve our ultimate professional goals.
Heather Bresch has done an amazing job as the CEO of Mylan. To watch the entire interview: Heather Bresch Being a Leader Knows No Gender.
Many professional women aspire to advance their career, but most encounter common obstacles because they don’t have “The Professional Playbook” to navigate corporate cultures. Download three chapters now of the professional playbook for women that includes initiatives to accelerate your professional growth.