Sally Helgesen knows of what she speaks. As a leadership coach, she’s been working with women at very senior levels for 30 years, while providing endless leadership based workshops and writing books. I think I can speak for all women when I say, we’re super grateful for it all!

Her latest book, How Women Rise, cowritten with leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith, is a culmination of her work, and it’s been a total game-changer for me, both professionally and personally. I couldn’t put it down!

Marshall originally wrote, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, which focuses on behaviors most likely to get in the way for successful people. But his research came from a heavily male coaching base, and women had trouble relating to some of the advice. For example: don’t always say you’re the person who’s right, or learn to apologize.

To Sally’s point, some of us can hardly open a door without apologizing. She suggested to Marshall that they write a book combining his fundamentals with information more directed toward women, and How Women Rise was born.

In the book, and during her interview, Sally talks about specific behaviors that may serve us early in our careers but can get in the way as we advance to more senior levels. There are 12 in total:

– Reluctance to Claim Your Achievements
– Expecting Others to Spontaneously Notice and Reward Your Hard Work
– Overvaluing Expertise
– Building Rather than Leveraging Relationships
– Failing to Enlist Allies from Day One
– Putting Your Job Before Your Career
– The Disease to Please
– The Desire to be Perfect
– Speaking While Emotional
– Minimizing
– Ruminating
– Letting Your Radar Distract You

In full transparency, the first three on the list are my culprits, but I recognize others as being more prominent during different periods of my life and career.

Sally also points out that a lot of us suffer from what she calls, People will think I am if I . . .

“Women have so much fear around being perceived as out for themselves or too ambitious. We often hold ourselves back, because we’re trying to manage people’s expectations rather than behaving in a way that’s appropriate but does, yes, serve our interests.”

And she’s here to tell you that the world doesn’t fall apart if we conduct ourselves more authentically.

“Sometimes when you behave in unexpected ways, people are a little uncomfortable, but if you give them a chance to get used to it, they do.”

Yes, they most certainly do. I’ve found this to be true just since reading the book!

And what about perfectionism? Aren’t most of us trying to do it all and do it just right?

“When I have seen women at very senior levels not get a promotion that one on paper would have expected them to get, it’s often because of perfectionism. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I have never once heard anybody say, ‘Oh, I work for a perfectionistic boss, and I love it!'”


I thoroughly expected to enjoy my conversation with Sally after reading her book, and I was right. Intelligent, funny, and super knowledgable, we rounded out her interview, discussing how life experiences lead us to that thing that will ultimately bring clarity and fulfillment, even in the face of self-doubts and ineffective behaviors.

“You just have to be patient and trust that there’s something unfolding.”

Now, that’s a takeaway!

You can listen to Sally’s interview on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or by clicking HERE.

Rise up, girlfriends!

Learn more:

How Women Rise