Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.
Do I have to tell you along the pathway of your career odyssey, you will experience detours, roadblocks, and dead-ends? Probably not—you’re a master at facing bumps in the road every day.
It is how you respond to challenges, which determines the outcomes you achieve. There is no perfect formula for your success. It is distinct for everyone. However, it does require a bit more strategic thought on the part of a woman.
Let’s take a blast “back-to-the-past.” Remember, the early stages of your career when you felt as though you’d gained traction and excitedly knew you were on your way? Congratulations! You and the other women coming up the ranks with you did make great strides as we now hold over 50% of mid-management positions. Then, careers stalled.
Unfortunately, the winning formula of working harder and longer hours wasn’t doing the trick any longer. If this equation worked, after 40 years, you and every other woman would own the top ranks of the organization. We don’t!
Are you’re still relying on this formula now that you’re vying for higher positions? You’ve missed a key switch point of transformation. The advancement rules entirely change from mid-management and above, and if you don’t course correct immediately, your career just may permanently be stuck.
The reality is your skills sets, talents, education, and expertise are part and parcel of why your company hired you. It isn’t even close to the complete picture for a successful journey to the top.
Jumpstart your thinking:
Embrace Yourself: You’ll flourish when standing on the foundation of your authentic self. Emulating male leadership traits is a betrayal of who you are. It robs you of the most shining leadership qualities you possess and leaves you as less than your best. I half-jokingly ask clients: “If the organization had a choice between someone pretending to be a man and a real man—who do you think they’ll choose?” You’ll gain momentum leaning into who you are and the unique feminine strengths you bring to the table.
Reveal Your Brilliance: Lack of confidence is one of the reasons women find themselves stagnating at levels far below they’re capabilities. Your power starts by accepting where you are right now while simultaneously embracing your next moment of growth—not out of insufficiency—rather from a sense of wholeness. A lack of self-belief often holds women back. Thus, it will have you deciding not to go for that meaningful job opportunity when it would be yours if you just trusted. Research confirms this point as confidence is a primary factor for career success—not one exclusively based on leaning into your abilities.
Think Bottom-Line: I don’t care how brilliant or confident or competent you are, if your recommendations or projects or results aren’t connecting to increased profitability for your organization, your career isn’t moving forward. So, while you’re planning your course of action, make sure you’re adding dollars to the bottom-line!
Reframing your approach is essential as it is the only aspect of your career development you have control over. Recognize that all of your skill sets, talents, education, and expertise are why your company hired you. Then, acknowledge it is not enough. Instead, cultivate the next level skills—focused more on strategic and less on tactical—to achieve the higher ranks in the organization.