Leadership

The world's most successful women share their best career advice

Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg delivers the Class Day address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 28, 2014, one day ahead of Commencement Exercises at the university.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder    (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION BUSINESS) - GM1EA5T0GIM01

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer, says you should "always take on new challenges". Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Valentina Zarya
Associate Editor, Fortune
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Leadership

Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women know a thing or two about career success. The 50 businesswomen on the 2017 list have climbed up the ranks of corporates in a wide range of industries—including tech, energy, defense, and consumer goods—to C-level roles. Here’s the advice they have for women who want to follow in their footsteps:

1. Be your authentic self

“When I was being considered for a senior role, I was told on an evaluation to avoid wearing pink because it made me look too ‘girlish’… Indirectly, I was told my femininity was a barrier. Because of my outward appearance, they couldn’t see my internal strength. Regardless, I fought back and got the job. Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to wear pink.”

“No matter where you go, don’t lose who you are.”

“Be clear on who are and what you’re serving with your life. Then, get ready for the world to relentlessly test you on how much you really mean it.”

2. Confidence is key

“Just go for it. Too often, women have a confidence gap that makes them pause and slow down while men dive in and learn as they go. Just go for it!”

“Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind or ask for what you want.”

“Raise your hand, take risks, and don’t fear failure—it’s one of the biggest impediments to success.”

3. Be open to opportunities

“Don’t cut off your career branches too early. Don’t step away from your career based on what ‘might’ happen.”

“Always take on new challenges—even if you at not sure you are completely ready.”

“Be prepared to spot growth opportunities when they present themselves—because they are the key learning opportunities. You’ll know because they make you uncomfortable, and your initial impulse may be that you’re not ready. But remember: Growth and comfort never co-exist.”

4. Surround yourself with good people

“Make sure you’re working for someone confident who is willing to take risks on you, gives you stretch opportunities, and is there to back you if things get tough. And do the same for people on your team.”

“Never be afraid to recruit people brighter than you are, and never be afraid to recruit people who are different than you. That is sometimes hard to do, but incredibly powerful if you want to create a team that is really effective.”

“You are only ever as good as the team you build, so be a talent magnet and surround yourself with the best and the brightest.”

5. Find the right balance for you

“Life happens—and the conflicting demands of work and home often change your ‘original’ path. Lateral movement, or even moves to smaller positions, can differentiate skills and experience in ways that eventually lead to bigger roles.”

“Make your life work for you—you can have a fulfilling career and be an amazing mother.”

“You won’t likely have the same plan in a few years that you have today. Life and priorities change—and so will your choices.”

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