Kicking off a Friday morning with a great speaker is a fantastic way to wrap  up the week.

This past week was the last Viewpoints event for the year, and I was thrilled to be a sponsor. This last breakfast was a conversation with co-author Mary Davis Holt on how to “Break Your Own Rules”.

The book is dedicated to helping women break rules that have kept them from the executive ranks in corporate America.

Mary Davis Holt discussed the patterns of thinking that block women on their path to power. Not power in a greedy way, this was more about personal power.

Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to drive change and improve companies when you are coming from a position of power.

Here are the 6 key rules that Mary discussed, she encouraged all of the women that morning to pick one and get started. It all comes down to being more of who you are, not less.

1. Take Center Stage…instead of…Focus on Others
This is a great way to start off the process of breaking your own rules. Be strategic and think about your career, it is important to help others, and it is just as important to take time and take care of yourself too. This ranges from staying healthy to ongoing learning. Being able to ask yourself how are you doing today and learning when you need to focus on yourself is about creating resilience. For me, this is very similar to the “oxygen” mask approach. Make sure you are solid before you help those around you.

2. Project Personal Power…instead of…Being Modest
This is all about remaining authentic to yourself and being confident in your capabilities. Own your awesomeness. There is a sweet spot that can be found on being confident and still being authentic, this is not about bragging about yourself.3. Proceed Until Apprehended…instead of…Seeking Approval
Be willing to not be liked. Your decisions should be focused on doing the right thing, not necessarily making everyone happy. Consensus is sometimes too sought after, when in reality that “robs” you of your power. Be sure to understand what this looks like for your organization and it’s culture. You want to know how far to take the “ask for forgiveness” later approach.4. It’s Both / And…instead of…It’s All or Nothing
Some leaders are very forceful in saying it is “my way or the highway”. In reality the optimal approach should include more options and it is about being open to other choices. This is all about keeping your response a rational one and not an emotional one.

5. It’s Play to Win…instead of…Playing It Safe

Ask yourself if you are playing it safe, or if you are really playing to win. Mary encourages us to jump in the game, take risks, and play to win.

6. Be Politically Savvy…instead of…Working Harder

We see women leaders drop off significantly when it comes to representation in the ranks in executive roles. The idea here is that women work hard, which absolutely gets them up to middle management, however, the skill that is required to get into senior positions is much more a function of being political savvy. Focusing on how to develop your organizational savvy is critical to success as you move up into more senior roles.

The book has three authors, Jill Flynn, Mary Davis Holt, and Kathryn Heath. It is a fantastic read and a must have for women leaders. It is so thoughtfully written and is a game-changer for women.

Don’t shrink to fit, be yourself and keep yourself honest. Mary Davis Holt was a fantastic speaker, she is so authentic and owns her brand. It was wonderful meeting her this past week. A huge shout out to Kathy Albarados from Helios HR for the wonderful moderation and asking fantastic questions to get the most out of the session for the group.

Thanks to the George Mason Women in Business Initiative for arranging for the Viewpoints speaker series this year, I am looking forward to more great speakers next year.

Be yourself, own your awesomeness,
Jen Dalton