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By Cassie Monaco
CEO/Founder, Sokn Engineering

As a young woman seeking a leadership role, I would ask yourself, why do you want to lead? Sometimes, people equate being a leader to greatness, success, recognition, and power, and if this is how you see being a leader, your vision of leadership is clouded.

A person taking on a leadership role often does not even realize what they are doing is leading because they are completely authentic in their ambition and mission to build on something, make an impact, inspire and make a difference.

When Harriett Tubman escaped slavery in 1850 and then put her newfound freedom at risk to lead and escort hundreds of other women, men, and children to freedom, she did not do this for recognition, but she was led by cause and purpose to save and unshackle lives.

Muriel Siebert, in 1967 without a college degree, was the first member of the NYSE. Her application denied nine times, but she persevered in her mission to pave the path to a more equitable workplace for women.

Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin were sisters who founded the first women-run brokerage firm in 1870. Being driven activists for women’s rights, they used some of their profits to establish a newspaper covering women’s issues, such as suffrage, labor reform, and prostitution.

Leadership to me is a responsibility. It is about inspiring and motivating, making an impact and difference in lives and the world. These women and so many more like them are the finest examples of the great responsibility of leadership and waking up every day with purpose and value.

I often say, “I didn’t think I couldn’t, so I did.”  This phrase is a different mindset than “She believed she could, so she did.” I left home at the age of 17 in the dead of winter. I left Missoula, Montana, with 160.00, believing I would make it to Florida. Instead, on my third day of travel, I ran out of both money and gas in Des Moines, Iowa. I did not fear what I was going to do next, and it certainly was not going to be calling home to be saved. A leader can always find her way. As I stepped out of my car. It was all matter of fact I needed to walk and find a job. ” I didn’t think I couldn’t, so I did.”  In my opinion, a leader needs to have this attitude “believing” should be reserved for believing in your faith and always believing in people and valuing their worth.

An effective and respected leader uses her power to acknowledge her team’s greatness, reward their success, and recognize hard work and commitment. Be strong and courageous in your leadership. Dig deep for your grit even when you feel you have none left and remain humble in your accomplishments and faithful to your core values.

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