“Don’t Ask For Permission” And Other Career Advice From Women Leaders Who’ve Been There


“Don’t Ask For Permission” And Other Career Advice From Women Leaders Who’ve Been There

Written by: iMentor, Brand Contributor

We know that career success is not just a matter of hard work — it’s an amalgam that also includes good timing, help from our network, and knowing when to play by the rules and when to rewrite the rules. Sometimes we need guidance and support. Other times we need the inside scoop and an important call placed to the right person on our behalf.


That’s where mentors come in — experienced professionals who have been there, done that, and who are ready to pay it forward and help someone else advance in their journey. Two Baltimore area leaders Dawn Moore, philanthropist and community organizer, and Stacey Ullrich, VP of communications and marketing at Baltimore Gas and Electric, gathered to discuss mentoring and careers. Moore and Ullrich, both advisory board members to iMentor Baltimore, part of national mentoring organization iMentor, had this advice to share with young people. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

1. Find your mentors.

“I have definitely recognized the impact that mentoring has had in my life, but It’s only been recently that I have really understood the power of mentorship in such a transformational way. I don’t deny my own skills or talent, but I do believe sometimes our lack of being able to separate ourselves from a situation or from an experience or emotion sometimes can cloud our judgment. Having somebody alongside you to navigate those minefields or just to say ‘Am I reading the room correctly?’ has really allowed me to understand the true impact that a mentor can have, either formal or informal.” — Ullrich

“At their core, mentors really are helpers. And that’s how the mentorship that I’ve received in my life has helped me navigate the professional and personal world. If you look around and you just ask, they will be there. Some mentors will be there for a lifetime, some for a season, some for a moment. But each person that comes into your life to help really can help you move to the place that you’re trying to get to.” — Moore

2. Women are stronger together.

“We just have to be deliberate about celebrating one another. You have to be intentional about it. You have to see a woman that you know is doing her thing and you have to celebrate her, whether you know her or not, whether she is in a board room with you or she’s not.” — Moore

3. Expand the table.

“It’s not a zero-sum game. Invite others to the table and make sure that when they’re at the table, you invite them to speak up. Oftentimes, I think people hold back. And for me, I’m very intentional about it: ‘I see that you haven’t spoken, do you want to add anything?’ Not to put somebody on the spot, but more to invite people into the conversation when they may feel, ‘I’m here, but are they waiting for my voice?’ You can stay in your comfort zone, but bring somebody along with you so that you can introduce them into the conversation, into that network.” — Ullrich

4. Don’t ask for permission.

“Take a risk. Don’t wait for permission. Really understand where you want to go and what you want to get accomplished. And then don’t wait for somebody to invite you; invite yourself into it and find ways to do that respectfully and appropriately. Be clear with your intention and then speak them out loud. And if you said it today and people in this room can’t help, somebody else may hear it or in a later time, down the distance, connect the dots.

“Don’t be scared to raise your hand to say, “Hey, I’ve never done that, but I’m really interested in it. Can I follow you? Can I support it? Can I leave it?” A lot of times they’re waiting for somebody to volunteer and they don’t know who the right person is. And even if you’re not selected, just say, “Can I shadow you and see what that experience is like?” It may not be something you know anything about, but I guarantee there’ll be something you’ll learn in that.

“We’ve probably all been in that situation where we raised our hand and we said, ‘Ah, now what?’ But we figured it out and it either led to us knowing more what we want to do or led to us understanding what we don’t want to do. And I think that’s a really important part of that experience. — Ullrich

5. Progress is not linear.

“I definitely have learned that progress is not linear. Professionally, whether it was in government politics or before I got to that space, I experienced some forward movement and some backward movement. But how do you take those losses? Do you let it make you feel like you’re not going to ever get to where you’re trying to go? Do you allow it to make you feel like somehow you’re not good enough?

“You just can’t do that. And this is the power of mentoring — an authentic mentor will tell you how much life does not progress in a linear fashion, that it’s always going to be going in different directions before you really find the place where you feel good about where you are. And that’s okay. The key is, do you learn from it? Do you allow yourself to become better from that sort of movement in different directions before you get to your destination?

“It’s okay to fail. Sometimes failure just happens. Sometimes you avoid it. This is not the rest of your life. Understand that some things are just not that serious. You didn’t break the law. You didn’t hurt anybody. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion. Maybe somebody wasn’t that nice to you at work or whatever the case or you have a bad boss. But at the end of the day, what’s really important to you?” — Moore

6. Lead with your head and your heart.

“Oftentimes we’re taught to lead just with our head and data. I would say lead with your head and heart and have empathy and really go all in to show up as yourself. That’s actually what people will remember.” — Ullrich

via Forbes – Leadership “https://www.forbes.com/leadership/”

April 22, 2022 at 08:38AM

Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman