HomeLearning CenterStorytelling In Mentoring: How To Invest In Women Leaders

Storytelling In Mentoring: How To Invest In Women Leaders

Originally published by Esther Choy for Forbes

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, if economic trends continue as they are “the US will take 208 years to close its gender gap.” If we want to see this rate of change accelerated, we must commit to raising women leaders who can tell their own stories to increase the impact of their leadership. A powerful way to do this is through mentoring.

For many women business leaders, like Casey Foss, Chief Commercial Officer at West Monroe, mentoring has become a core part of how they understand their role as a business leader. “Sometime over the past five years, mentoring and growing the people around me became the priority,” said Foss. “Watching people struggle through COVID, watching women leave the workforce, watching my own daughter find her own voice during COVID, my priorities just changed…If I wasn’t going to fight for more female leaders or more space in the boardroom nobody else was.”

Authenticity and Vulnerability in the Mentorship Relationship

“As a woman in business,” Foss recalled, “you’re taught that being vulnerable might make you look weak.” She never shared personal stories at work for fear it would hold back her career. While stance of self-protection led to a reputation of being a results-driven and effective leader, Foss also realized that it was hurting her ability to mentor other women in her office. There was a perception that her career came easily and that she had set an unrealistic bar.

So Foss decided she needed to lean on her leadership storytelling skills. She started to share stories about her struggles — running to the train to pick up her kids, mom guilt, etc. “It made me much more relatable… more human, and to be honest,” Foss said. “Those are the stories that I find myself sharing all the time. It’s not my accolades or my success.” By normalizing the struggles she faces as a woman in business, she is now able to connect with her peers and mentor those around her better, paving the way for more women leaders in business.

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