Breaking through the barriers of a male-dominated industry, including banking, can be challenging. Despite significant progress toward gender equality in recent years,women remain underrepresented in the industry's executive leadership positions.
However, there are women who have shattered the glass ceiling, including at BOK Financial®. We asked four women leaders to share their experiences—from overcoming challenges to investing in friendships, these women offer insights that aspiring leaders can learn from and be inspired by.
Maintaining good mental health is vital for leaders
"As women and as leaders, we often give so much to those around us," said Carrie Clasen Porter, chief operations and administrative officer for wealth management. "It is important to me to take care of myself to ensure I can give my best at home, work and in the community."
Self-care is critical, agrees Chief Marketing Officer Sue Hermann. "I've experienced the impact of long-term stress and know the importance of taking care of yourself, particularly when you're doing creative work," she said.
"I find it's really helpful to focus on gratitude—to stop and notice how the sunrise paints the mountains pink or to be thankful for friends, family and health. Stopping for a few moments and celebrating the small things can help shift your mindset."
Aerika Morris, client service director for the company's Institutional Wealth group, offers the model that works for her:
- Focus on my faith.
- Protect my peace.
- Plan breaks instead of taking them once I am already mentally or emotionally overwhelmed.
- Ask for help when I need it.
- Learn to say no and not overcommit myself.
- Exercise and take care of my body.
- Create a safe space to emote and be vulnerable with people I trust.
"Being proactive has helped me so that I am not forced to triage the negative effects of self-neglect," said Morris.
Mindy Mahaney, chief risk officer, invests heavily in friendships, in and out of work. "I also exercise, usually doing something that is focused on making me stronger and more resilient, and I try to eat healthfully."
She also encouraged women leaders to identify an outlet that has nothing to do with the work version of themselves. "Binging TV shows, reading, knitting—whatever hobby you can do that takes your brain off of work."
What skills does every great leader need?
"Self-awareness—know what you're good at and what you're not," Hermann said. "Grit—you will fail, you will struggle and you cannot give up. Empathy—connect with others on a human level."
Empathy is also on Mahaney's list, along with curiosity and the ability to execute.
"Passion for what you do, curiosity to learn and courage to do the hard things you encounter," Clasen Porter added.
"Being tenaciously passionate about winning breeds creativity and vision, and a drive for results that gets you first to the finish line," said Morris. She also listed a high emotional IQ to understand how best to manage the dynamics between people, how they feel, react, and are motivated within the scope of a team environment and dynamic strategic thinking skills.