If you are a woman in leadership and business, you are not unfamiliar with grit and hard work. In fact, you may even feel the added pressure to hunker down and get it done at all costs because of the added but unspoken pressure of having to outperform your colleagues in order to prove yourself.

Believe me, I get it. The struggle for leaders is real, but in order to overcome and rise above, we need to change our understanding of what “proving ourselves” looks like and instead embrace virtue in our leadership.

It starts with character, honesty, and integrity.

It starts with honoring our time, health, and values.

It starts with learning how to communicate our needs clearly, rather than apologizing for them.

It does not look like sacrificing any of the above in order to get ahead, get noticed, or achieve the goal.

Have you lost sight of the power of character and integrity? I think some of us have sacrificed our own reputations to ‘win’ in the moment.

But if you want to be a leader that will turn heads, stay true to your values and don’t stray from the person of character you strive to be.

And if you’re serious about being a leader others want to follow and stepping out in confidence toward your potential, consider these four muscles leaders should always be strengthening.


If you’re trying to identify your character, ask yourself these questions:

What are the moral qualities and values you stand by?

Do you want to be known for what you did or who you were?

How would you want people to describe your character?

What kind of mark do you want to leave behind?

Do you place winning or being right before relationships?

As you think through your answers to these questions, consider how your actions today are supporting the character you’re trying to shape.


No matter where you sit on the organization chart, you have influence. The question is, how are you influencing others?

Are you worth following? If so, why?

What about your actions and behaviors will have a ripple effect for positive change in the future?

Leadership is influence, which means if we want to be successful leaders, we need to take responsibility for the influence we have now.


Your reputation is yours to build.

Whether you like it or not, the reputation you’re building today will have a direct impact on your future relationships and opportunities.

What do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room? 

Are your actions supporting that narrative? 

Building a strong reputation is not wavering in who you are and how you behave. Slowly, over time, your colleagues, peers, and leaders will notice the strength of your reputation.

Strong reputations have the ability to withstand those unfortunate times when others hurl insults and accusations your way. Additionally, a good reputation will leave a mark on others, and sometimes that can have a great return on investment. You never know what opportunity might come your way because someone remembered you in a positive light.


There are a lot of successful people without integrity. If you want to be a person of integrity, sometimes you’ll have to let go of the win to keep your character in check.

Do you follow through with what you say and the values you hold tightly to? In other words, are you who you say you are?

If you’re consistent in who you are and follow through, you’re building integrity that others will have a hard time forgetting.

I promise no title, raise, advancement, or ‘hill to die on’ is worth sacrificing the values you stand by.

Real leaders rise above their challenges without forfeiting who they are.

Real leaders do the right thing, which is sometimes the hard thing.

But these are the leaders who will be remembered.

Strong character, influence, reputation, and integrity will make all the difference now and in your future.

So stay strong and keep working toward your goals as you build your character, establish your influence, form your reputation, and lead with integrity.