One of the most powerful women in finance oversees billions of dollars — and also has 9 kids

This finance guru's secret to success: 'Don't lean in'
This finance guru's secret to success: 'Don't lean in'

Helena Morrissey is one of the most powerful money managers in the U.K. She is head of personal investing at Legal and General Investment Management, which oversees nearly $1 trillion of assets. She has also written a book about women in the workforce and chairs a gender-diversity project. Oh — and she has nine children.

The secret to success for the 52-year-old Morrissey, who has three boys and six girls ages 9 to 26?

Don't lean in.

Helena Morrissey
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

That's not to say she doesn't think women should have a seat at the table. Rather, she thinks instead of women trying to act like men, they should be valued for who they are. Her book is about how to reinvent the workplace.

Here are three ways Morrissey says you can avoid leaning in:

1. Play to your strengths

"If you are trying to get a seat at the table by leaning in, all the while suppressing what makes you you, any success is going to be limited," Morrissey said.

If your employer doesn't allow you to be your authentic self, Morrissey said, it may be time to leave for a company that genuinely values diversity.

"My own career went from disappointing to a rapid journey to the top when I moved from a very traditional environment to a true meritocracy," Morrissey said.

2. Come up with other ways of working

Bosses love solutions. So if you see a way to work smarter, don't be afraid to make positive suggestions for improvement.

"If 'leaning in' to the status quo means accepting inefficient working practices, endless meetings that waste everyone's time, followed by long evenings actually getting the work done, call that out," Morrissey said.

3. Have allies in the office

If you're going to break the mold, it's important to have people that will back you up. Especially people with more power than you.

Morrissey said to align with people "who are prepared to use their own power to help you modernize and improve results."