This month my blog provides advice for women who want to get ahead in their careers, drawing from my own experience and that of clients and colleagues who have achieved notable success. While entire books have been written on this topic, here are some of the major takeaways from these conversations:
- Self-awareness is the foundation of confidence and good choices. Know your strengths and challenges. Pay attention to what inspires you. Know your personality and how you are perceived and use this information in your interactions with others.
Find a Supportive Environment
- Find an environment that will support your success. Google “Best Companies to Work for Women” to learn about organizations recognized for programs that even the playing field for women. Consider companies that are growing rapidly where you’ll be more likely to be thrown into new situations and experience new challenges.
- If you do find yourself with a boss who’s a bully and undermining you, cut your losses and start immediately to look for new opportunities. This is why keeping your network and your LinkedIn profile in top form is so important.
- Take risks. Put yourself out there for new opportunities, even if you’re not entirely certain that you’re ready. Cultivate the attitude, “I may not have all the answers, but I’ll figure it out – or find someone to help who does.”
- Confidence is an inner game. Work on your gremlins – the voice in your head that keeps telling you you’re not good enough, smart enough. Eradicate these negative beliefs by recognizing them for what they are – mental constructs that rob you of your confidence and hold you back.
- Expect mistakes and own your mistakes; embrace the lessons that come from them and move on.
Make Your Voice Heard
- Get over your qualms about speaking up when you have something important to say. Consider Toastmasters to increase your confidence through practice in public speaking and how to respond off the cuff.
- Cultivate relationships with male influencers and sponsors, both inside and outside your organization. Having these people in your corner will help smooth your path and ensure that your good ideas get heard.
- Build your network from early in your career. Be known as someone who gives generously of themselves to others. And as you become established, pay it forward by becoming a champion for young women.
Balancing Work and Life
- You can have it all – just not all at the same time. There will be times when your career may take the back seat to family responsibilities. What’s important is to keep your career “alive” through these periods, by staying current, connected, taking on new projects and learning skills that will position you well in the longer term.
- With your partner come to agreement on your core values about which parenting and household management activities you choose to do yourselves and which can be delegated. From there, it’s a matter of finding creative solutions as new needs arise, drawing upon a community of support both paid and volunteered. The good news: in the process you’ll become an even better leader, crystal clear on your priorities and laser-focused in the time you do have both at work and at home.
So, there you have it – wise words from women who’ve been there on how to get ahead. They assume, of course, that you’re building your reputation and credibility on a solid platform of adding real value and producing results!
Do you agree with these points? What else might you add? Which areas might you work on?