When opportunities arise to assume greater leadership roles, whispers of self-doubt aren’t uncommon. Are you ready? Is this the right move? Do they really want me? Am I moving up too fast? Writing at LinkedIn, Sallie Krawcheck—CEO and co-founder of women’s investing site Ellevest—says she knows those doubts and how to defeat them.
“When I was offered my first leadership opportunity, I recoiled from it,” she writes. “I was a Research Analyst at Sanford Bernstein, and I was asked if I would consider becoming Director of Research. I was flattered, of course. But I didn’t want the job. What I really wanted was to be Associate Director of Research. And I wanted my mentor—the guy who hired me—to be the main guy.
“It seemed to me that this would be a great answer. A baby step into leadership for me; with the cover of someone else who would have to be the real boss. I could be a COO-type; he could be the CEO-type. He could make the big decisions; I could help him and offer him counsel.”
What helped her make the decision to accept the job offered was taking a risk-management approach: Compare the upsides and the downsides and work to reduce the risk of accepting the job. And she says she learned that not being “liked” by everyone for moving into management wasn’t as debilitating as she feared.
“So, as I’ve moved on to additional leadership positions, I’ve been less hesitant. But I’ve employed the same risk management approach in each leadership role as in my first: identify the upside and the downside, and then work to reduce the risk,” she writes.
“Take over management responsibility for Smith Barney and turn around its research business? Upside: stretch myself to lead a business at large scale, through turbulence. Downside: public failure and humiliation. I decided to do it.”
What she says she has learned is most effective in reducing risk is “getting the right team in place, with the diverse skills to bring out the best in each other.”
Read Sallie Krawcheck’s complete LinkedIn essay here. Then share your experiences on GlassCeiling.com: How did you quell your hesitations about moving up the leadership ladder. Join the conversation.