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The Best Advice from Female Bosses

The double-edged sword of the modern day workplace continues: 69 percent of senior women say they are confident they’ll reach the C-suite in their careers (yay!), but that’s only compared to 86 percent of their male colleagues (ugh), according to a recent McKinsey and Co. survey.

Women in positions of power is commonplace, but if you dig into the stats, you’ll find that ladies hold only 5 percent of chief executive positions in the world today. The good news: More senior-level women are lending their words of wisdom to other female managers rising the ranks.

Looking for some guidance in upper management? Consider the advice of women who have forged their own paths, sit at the top of massive corporations, or simply know what it takes to score that corner office.

Delegate Effectively

“An important task as a manager is to delegate responsibility effectively. One of our studies found that 60 percent of employees who feel they have an impact on the direction of the company are engaged. Women should give employees more responsibility and empower them to be future leaders. It’s also essential to work toward balancing work and family. A good way to achieve this is to focus on time management skills at work and outside of the office. If you’re using your time wisely during work hours, you will benefit from having more available time outside of the office.” -Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of marketing at Dale Carnegie Training

Define Your Legacy

"Your team is your most precious asset. It does not matter if it’s at work or at home, build a support system of women of worth in your life that inspire and motivate you. Never say ‘no’ to an opportunity and embrace experiences outside of your comfort zone. Everyone leaves a legacy and only you can define what yours will be. Never lose sight of your vision and who you are as a person. You are your number one champion so always stay true to your core values and principles. Never waiver and never compromise if it means losing who are.” -L’Oréal Paris president Karen T. Fondu

Don't Be Afraid to Be Assertive

"My style doesn't work with people who expect all women to be warm and fuzzy. That's not me. I'm goal-oriented and often act in a manner that is no different than the guys, but because it's confusing hearing that from a woman who is not supposed to be assertive, the approach can ruffle a few feathers. I learn to attack it straight on: I actually announce that I may not be what people expect, but I also make the effort to find a way to connect on familiar ground with people too (i.e., if someone is a mom or divorced).” -Diane Danielson, chief operating officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corp


“One of the recent changes we made that has been very significant has been making it clear that no employee is expected to be on work e-mail after hours. When they are off, they are off. We’re a 24/7 media operation, so there are always people on, but not the same people. People tell us every day what a difference it has made—how they can really be undistracted, be with themselves, their families, their loved ones, and return to work recharged. We don’t pay people for their stamina; we pay them for their judgment, and increasingly, for their ideas and their creativity—this is the lightning in the bottle.” -Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, told the Authors@Wharton series

Choose to Be Nice

“I’ve had people say to me, ‘I wonder if you’re too nice.’ Some of that is because I’m a woman. What I have said in response is: ‘I am nice. And I want to be nice.' There’s no such thing as too nice. But my expectations are high, and people do rise to my expectations. That’s how I manage. I don’t manage based on fear. I manage based on expectations. It’s easy for women to be read as too nice, too kind. But it’s important to be able to make that choice. Niceness and kindness are not the opposite of ambition and drive. It is powerful to choose to be nice.” -Marjorie Kaplan, group president of the Animal Planet, Science, and Velocity networks, told The New York Times

Sponsor a Protégé

“A great manager provides team members with actionable and consistent feedback, not only on performance but also on the skills that will help differentiate them as leaders. In addition, smart managers have protégés but unfortunately our research finds female leaders over-mentor and under-sponsor. They fail to recognize that the sponsor, as well as the protégé, stand to benefit from this two-way relationship. Building a loyal cadre of effective performers can extend your reach, help you realize your vision, build your legacy, and burnish your reputation. -Sylvia Ann Hewlett, economist, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, and author of the upcoming Executive Presence

Showcase Talent

"Hire people smarter than you and don’t be threatened. I think it’s really important that you convey that you care about your people. Take time to meet with them and get to know them. You have to understand what motivates individuals. I love to showcase talent on my team, and I believe it’s our legacy to develop others. Let them be part of big presentations, or give them cross-functional opportunities within your company.” -Jena Abernathy, senior partner with Witt/Kieffer 

Bring People Together

“In management, the keys for success are beginning to tilt toward some qualities that women bring to the table. We always think of a CEO as command and control. But with all the data available to everybody, it’s becoming more about communication, collaboration, bringing people together, understanding the information that’s out there, and sharing that information. These are qualities that many men possess, but a lot of women possess them too.” -Sallie Krawcheck, owner of 85 Broads, a global women’s networking group, and former president of Bank of America’s global wealth and investment management division, told The Washington Post

Value Your Team

“Treat people as humans first, colleagues second. At Hyatt, our culture is closely connected to deeply caring about our guests and colleagues. You can actually feel the genuine connections between everyone that works here, from the sincere ‘Good mornings’ to the personal stories that start our meetings. As a manager, you have to understand the personal lives of the team that works for you to create harmony in their work life. It's a continuous cycle—when your colleagues feel valued, they excel at work, which fosters happiness in their personal life. Don't be a people manager, be a human manager.” -Kristine Rose, vice president, brand experience for Hyatt