Gender inequality is a worldwide epidemic. Women around the world are subjected to social and economic disparity, like the pay gap and the lack of women in positions of power where they can affect real change.

We understand that there are many factors, including systemic structures and historical bias, that goes into the lack of women leaders in both private and public sectors, but we also believe that as women we can help each other and ourselves install more women into leadership roles, whether in government, STEM, art or any other industry.

It starts with adopting a positive mindset. Subconsciously or not, a lot of women have been raised to believe that they don’t deserve to be in a position of power or lack the proper skills to be a leader. We’ve also been socialized to think that as women, wanting more is a bad thing. This mindset blocks us from going after leadership roles especially in industries dominated by men including Tech, Finance and even in our own community.

We have to first work through these issues within ourselves, and once we’ve conquered it, we must create a plan on how we will become a leader in our respective industries. We can do this by creating our own path towards becoming a leader.

Here are the steps to create your own personal leadership development plan:

1. Find Your Why.

So, you want to be a leader? But why do you want to lead and who do you want to lead? These are important questions to answer before you begin this journey. Leaders come in different shapes and sizes, and the kind of leader you need to be may differ from one industry to another, or even one office to another.

2. Define What a Good Leader is for You.

Think of the leaders you admire and want to emulate. What qualities do they have that make them a good leader? Their public speaking? Their management skills? Their honest and ethical behavior? List these things down and it will help you define what YOU will need to become a good leader.

3. Assess Yourself – Honestly.

Now that you know what kind of leader you want to be and what qualities you need in order to become that kind of leader, you need to assess yourself and find out what skills and qualities you need to improve. You need to be completely honest with yourself, so you’ll know what areas you need to work on.

4. Master Your Leadership Skills.

Now that you know what leadership skills you need to improve on, you can start researching what you need to do to achieve your goal. For example, if you need to improve your public speaking or negotiating skills, you can take a professional course or join a support group for women like the Rise and Lead Women Forum, where you can grow and improve your skillset.

5. Create a Timeline for Yourself.

Like they say, a goal without a plan is just a dream. Create milestones and specific, achievable goals. Then write actions plans or steps you need to take in order to achieve these goals (e.g. if you want to be better at networking you will read books/take lessons, then practice networking at your company’s next trade events). Then you have to set a realistic timeline of when you can achieve your set goals.

6. Keep an Eye Out for Leadership Opportunities.

Becoming a leader doesn’t just mean becoming the CEO or CFO of your company, or even owning your own business. As we grow our leadership skills there are plenty of opportunities for us to hone them in real-time settings. Perhaps you can start by taking lead in a small project for your office or running the bake sale for your local community. These smaller leadership roles will help us prepare for bigger responsibilities to come.

What kind of leader do you want to be?