Andrea Berryman, director of product management for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., said women tend to not apply for jobs unless they are fairly certain they are qualified. Men, on the other hand, tend to do the opposite and reach for jobs where they have fewer qualifications than what's needed.
She suggested women adopt the same practice.
"Even if you feel you don't have the qualifications for it, go for it," she said. "The guys are."
Ms. Berryman said ethics and charting your own course are two areas especially important for women.
Leadership, she said, has nothing to do with job title.
"Leadership can be at the entry level and all the way through your entire career," she said.
Ms. Berryman's own leadership style is by example.
"The three most important things for me for my entire career have been my integrity, my continuous desire to learn and then, also, I know everybody says it, personal balance," she said. "It can be really difficult sometimes to stick to our guns on your decisions. Always doing the right thing isn't necessarily popular. But again, it simplifies how you do business.
"Somebody you talk to will always know they are getting the straight scoop from you. And, for me, that means I want to deliver the best product, no matter what. And that's my only motive in this process. I've actually had some people during my career that have said I would go nowhere because of an unwillingness to compromise on my ethics."
Becoming a director at a major tire company, she said, proves her approach worked.
"My team knows that they can trust what I'm saying," she said. "They know I'm being upfront with them and not trying to hide anything."
Ms. Berryman also pointed to the importance of being a continuous learner in her career and how that has allowed her to move from one job to another within the tire industry to gain a broad perspective. This varied experienced, she said, gives her a leg up on being able to communicate within various segments of the industry.
Family balance, Ms. Berryman added, is another important key to her success. That has meant taking pauses at different points in her career, but she said that was her own call and she has made the decision work for her. She also preaches the importance of work-family balance to those she oversees and understands that family commitments sometimes can conflict with business.