This month, I asked women leaders 40 and older to tell me “what keeps you up at night” and this posting shares what they told me. So, if you are not a woman or not over 40, don’t leave! Read and consider a key woman in your life (work or home)–and forward this post to her.

Who responded?
42 of my clients, colleagues and online followers–all successful, fabulous women!
Where They Work
In What Industries

The survey asked two questions:

1. What keeps you up at night (i.e., grabs your brain, creates stress, worries you about just how you will accomplish it)?, checking all that apply. On average, each woman leader had three to five items checked. The items include:
Percent of total reporting
(50%) Having a plan for my next career-life phase
(50%) Balancing my work-home life
(42%) Having time to think strategically
(43%) Dealing with a difficult relationship
(41%) Achieving a huge goal with a lot of uncertainty
(38%) Managing a complex set of stakeholders
(31%) Lifting my team’s capability

Here’s the full report on totals for each item.

What Keeps You Up At Night?

2. What is the one problem that, if you could achieve, you would be absolutely thrilled? And what would that get you? The top four problems declared were:

#1 (29%) Having a plan for my next Career-Life Phase
With big jobs, big goals, and precious families to take care of, these women loudly stated that they would be thrilled to have that next (and maybe last) big career move firmly in sight. In fact that new vision would fuel their current success, include new life balance, and much, much more.

#2 (20%) Achieving a Huge Goal that has a lot of uncertainty
Revenue targets and market share were the most prevalent goals referenced by respondents. The reality of high levels of uncertainty create greater risk and future rewards. These women often linked reaching their goal to career advancement, recognition, or just plain team and personal satisfaction.

#3 (17%) Managing a Complex Set of Stakeholders (e.g., board, global team, client, etc.)
Whether about building trust, getting aligned, or simply getting clear about “what stakeholders want,” these women are eager to reduce their stress and frustration to gain more thinking time and produce results faster, better. Already aware and working on stakeholder issues, these women leaders want to move faster and with more assurance.

#4 (12%) Lifting my Team’s Capability
Why? A resounding chord was hit with this one. Women leaders want to have more time to think strategically or spend more time on other key work, plans, or actions. The second chord was the interest to have the team feel that “lift” and have new pride in their achievements.

Of course, twenty-two percent of survey participants identified one of the other “up at night” items as their top pick, including having the time to think strategically, balance of work-home life, and (interestingly) a number of write-ins that focused on freedom.

For those of you who responded, thank you for your input. For all of you, I hope this survey was interesting and affirming. Let me know in a comment below.

What next for me? Well, of course, I will be taking these results into consideration as I develop and offer tools, thinking, and programs for my clients and those who follow this blog. Stay tuned!