Do nice girls get the corner office?
Not according to Dr Frankel whose hard hitting best-seller Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office points out some of the mistakes women make at work and gives coaching tips on how they can change this.
Out of the 101 mistakes she wrote about, I will discuss a few which go towards making good my promise to explore what women can do to break the glass ceiling.
Refusing high-profile tasks
Sometimes women turn down opportunities to showcase their abilities and this can range from refusing to be the group leader in a workshop situation (out of fear of having to present feedback in the plenary session) to making a presentation to senior management.
Tip — volunteer to give presentations or updates to senior management, this may be the only opportunity to expose yourself to this influential group. Just make sure you prepare thoroughly.
Viewing men in authority as father figures
Dr Frankel found that some women get tongue tied, act coy or defer too much to their male bosses.
Women need to make a distinction between the way they behave with their father figures in society and male bosses at work.
Corporate wear in some organisations has taken care of this problem but it pops up here and there in other companies.
Be aware of days when you need to put your best foot forward, it could be the weekly management meeting or an important meeting with a client.
In order to be taken seriously women need to avoid looking too casual or seductive.
Tip — Dress for the job you want and not the job you have.
Taking things personally
You may have come across the type of woman who believes everyone is against her.
They don’t take criticism well and will find it difficult to control their emotions in the face of imagined insults.
If for example they become aware of a meeting last minute, instead of viewing this as a genuine mistake, they assume that someone is out to sabotage them.
Even if someone is deliberately rude or antagonist, realise that they are the ones with issues and not you.
Tip — Make your life a grudge-free zone.
Ex-publishing executive Cathie Black’s Basic Black, The Essential Guide for Getting ahead at Work also has some interesting pointers for women wishing to get ahead.
Make your boss look good
This takes initiative and can involve doing things outside of your job description.
For example giving your boss crucial updated information
before an important meeting, even though they haven’t asked for it.
We all know executives get stressed and even more demanding when it comes to preparing for board meetings.
Its career-limiting if your boss is taken to task by other board members because the figures or information you have submitted in the board pack is incorrect or inadequate.
Create a vision
Even if you are a one-person team or you have subordinates, a vision for your section or department will energise people and give them direction.
Cathie Black also notes that a good team leader takes more than her share of the blame and less than her share of the credit.
Never take a supporting role in somebody else’s drama
There is always something going on in the workplace and it’s tempting to add fuel to the fire by spreading gossip and recounting an event which puts someone in a bad light.
One way to avoid being linked with dramas is walking away from such discussions or tactfully changing the subject.
Sell yourself as though you believe in the product
Unheard of years ago, personal branding is now an industry on its own and it’s worthwhile for women to think about what they stand for.
If someone is asked to describe you using three words, which words would they use?
Deciding on how you want to be remembered and then aligning your appearance, work and actions accordingly is one sure way to developing a strong brand and getting the keys to that corner office.
“The first half of your life is spent chasing success; the second half is spent chasing significance” says Cathie Black.