Our Impact

What can we learn as women who lead? Key takeaways from a boss woman

Posted by Tyra Montina, Site Director for Year Up on July 27, 2020

At the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Program 2020 Graduation, Tyra Montina, Site Director for Year Up, was selected to speak on behalf of her 2020 Women’s Leadership Program cohort on what the program meant to her, and her takeaways to make Greater Boston the best place for women to work. We're currently recruiting for the 2020-2021 class of Women Leaders - nominate a leader you know TODAY!

In a world that wants you to whisper, I choose to yell

This quote by Luvvie Ajayi is an affirmation that I aspire to live by and speaks to my learnings from the Women’s Leadership Program experience. I’ll admit – I’m a work in progress. One of the first pieces of feedback I received in my small group when we were discussing the struggles of self-advocacy was, “if you’re doing a great job, tell someone!”  

Hmmm, I should yell that, not whisper.

I’m honored to share your screen right now as you push past your zoom fatigue to celebrate the Wonder Women from this cohort. Yes, I say Wonder Women, because getting through this program during a pandemic is nothing short of heroic. Thank you to Alyson and the team for ensuring we can finish this experience virtually.

When first meeting the women leaders in this cohort I was floored, but not surprised, with the intelligence, humor, and warmth that emanates from these women who lead. After peeling back a few layers of anxiety that first day because it was like a public speaking course when delivering our artifacts, it was evident that 1 – there will be no whispering and 2 - this cohort of women had astounding personal journeys that lead them to this point. Many, like myself, were all aiming to be boss women in their field: looking to be better networkers, negotiators, managers, leaders, employees, and better versions of themselves.

As I reflect on my time with this program, hands down, my favorite session was the Simmons in-person program. Little did we know at the time that being in-person would be a thing of the past. What came to light was the talent that truly made up this cohort. There was a networking activity that highlighted the strengths of everyone and how they could help others. It was such a powerful exercise that changed my negative perception of networking to being about sharing and helping others. Another part of that session was focused on discussing some of the things that may get in our way as women, or things we allow to get in our way – like self-deprecating humor, avoiding emotions or saying, "I'm sorry", all of the time as if we’re taking up too much space. These lessons resonated because they were examples of me whispering. I walked out of that session with a newfound realization that our various leadership styles don't need to be changed for us to be boss women. I don’t need to conform to the dominant styles I see from privileged, white men. Leveraging the strengths of my specific brand is dynamic on its own.

In a world that wants you to whisper, I choose to yell

I aspire to be an executive, but I usually whisper this tidbit to people. When I shared this with my group, they made me realize how I was quick to share what experiences I don’t have, and what skills I need to work on instead of focusing on my strengths. Hmmm, I was whispering again! In our negotiation class, I learned that I, like many others, bargain ourselves down when self-negotiating – we are whispering in conversations about our wants and needs.  

Something shifted for me while in the program. A year ago, I had personal goals related to self-advocacy and confidence, but none of my goals included yelling. But I want to yell. I want to yell!

I don’t just want a seat at the table, I want two seats so I can bring someone with me, and I want my voice heard in surround sound at the table.

Amid a pandemic, civil unrest, and worried if black lives really do matter, I realized there’s something else to yell about. I can’t just use my voice to yell for my own gain, it's about cultivating equitable opportunities for others – specifically women. This is the true premise of WLP. I can’t let this moment pass without telling the Wonder Women from this cohort you already are a better version of yourself, and I hope you use your voice to yell.  

Yell for the well-deserved promotion or raise. 

Yell to advocate for others. 

Yell while you’re doing something uncomfortable for the greater good. 

Yell to say being a quiet ally is no longer an option. 

Yell at your school board, policymakers, yell when you notice that the table you’re sitting at is homogenous. 

Whether we like it or not, we are in the middle of making history, and when you look back on this moment in time what is the story you want to be told about you – that you whispered, or chose to yell? Congratulations Class of 2020!