Learning to Navigate the System Is The New Skill Women Leaders Need

Why Learning to Navigate the System Is The Only New Skill Women Leaders Need this Year

By Audrey McGuckin, CEO, WOTW - 

Nine months ago we started our first Women On Their Way Navigator Cohort. Last fall, a group of 22 director-level women leaders began their Navigator journey, a year of learning designed to accelerate the professional growth and executive presence of these leaders. A year of helping leaders cultivate the vision and capabilities needed to succeed within their organizations.

When I developed the Navigator program, I consciously created something that was NOT the traditional cheese and cracker approach to women’s leadership. Getting groups of women together over cheese and crackers to talk about how they can improve their leadership skills DOES NOT move the needle (and I demand that we actually move the needle rather than just talk). 

I wanted to create something real. Authentic. Powerful. I wanted to teach women how to understand and navigate a corporate system that is stacked against them because real change happens when women are given high-level strategies that foster system intelligence and awareness. 

Now that we are halfway through the year, I wanted to share some of the insights the women in this first cohort have provided to our team. 

 Here is what our Navigator cohort participants have to say about the program:

“Navigator provides insight into the system. It has enabled me to get grounded in the elements of the system. I now see how complicated and tough it is to navigate and having someone guide me has made all of the difference.”

“Navigator has enabled me to see things differently. It has helped with a larger perspective from my daily job and my career.”

“This program has taught me to speak up and be bold. I’m getting more projects and I’m thinking bigger and broader. I’m able to connect the dots in new ways.” 

“Navigator has been grounding for me. It’s helpful to have the space to develop and grow and also to have this group of women to learn from and navigate with.”

“The support from the group has been amazing.”


As someone whose life passion is to elevate other women in the workplace, the feedback above makes me feel the importance of my life’s work. However, it’s not just about me. It’s about this amazing group of women who show up to our sessions each month ready to be vulnerable with each other, open to learning new ways of leading, and ready to dream big. Without their dedication and excitement, we wouldn’t see the results we are seeing.

This brings me to one of my favorite sayings: Inclusion has to be bigger than what we consider it to be. It’s up to us to get uncomfortable to grow.

In other words, how can we shift mindsets in ourselves and in our organizations? How can we create intention in our leadership? To amp up your authentic leadership, you have to show up better. That goes for men and women leaders. We all have to gain self-awareness to shift mindsets. And your business will see better outcomes. The research proves it. 

As one of our Navigator faculty members, Holly O’Driscoll says:  “The system has to support all of the groups and individuals. It’s work. It’s really hard to change and influence leaders in your organization when you don’t understand what the system is.”

As we enter this second half of the year-long journey, I am looking forward to seeing how this group of women continues to expand and grow. They are increasing their awareness. They are making bold commitments. And I love watching them shine. 

If you’re a leader wanting to champion the women leaders in your organization, you can sign up your women for our next cohorts starting this fall.

Upcoming Navigator Cohorts, 2022

  • Director Level Cohort - Begins August 2022
  • Executive Level Cohort - Begins October 2022
  • More information can be found here

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