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.
Charge is the marching order for many women as they travel into work each day. This response is entirely understandable as the marketplace is placing more demands on companies and, thus, their employees.
Added to this, you’re daily facing information overload. As a Massachusetts college professor noted, someone living today receives more stimuli in twenty-four hours than anyone living a few generations ago received in their lifetime.
Sadly, women feed into a "firefighting mentality" in the face of these challenges anticipating this will aid them in being the difference-maker in their organization. So, off they go—charging into the fray with their preverbal sword raised high as they take responsibility for conquering problem after problem.
Today’s current cultural climate drives us, but often the answers women have come up with are counter-productive to achieving success.
Research, by John Pencavel of Stanford University, attempting to quantify the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.
Not only do women complete more work on average, but they are assigned 55 percent of all work, compared to 45 percent assigned to men—often more mundane work and less meaningful, thriving activities.
What’s a woman to do?
Identify Your Golden Touch: This search alone is instrumental in creating a significant work shift for you—one more attuned to a high potential employee. You see, your Golden Touch is all your expertise combined with the accomplishments your company is paying you the big bucks to perform, and why your staff’s salary is lower than yours. Unfortunately, women squander their attention on tasks well below their level—often on work that doesn’t support their promote-ability. If you chose to identify your Golden Touch, it starts with assessing every activity your hands and mind touch versus what you should be doing. Through the process, you’ll discover projects that never were yours. It’s time to thoughtfully figure out who can and ought to be working on them instead of you. This point is where you begin delegating, as well as determining the essential training to elevate their abilities to carry out the new functions. The extra time you open up on your calendar is for you to take on higher-level, more rewarding and rewarded, projects leading to your brighter, more satisfying future.
Stop Racking Up Diplomas: Everyone is required to be a learned, knowledgeable executive. However, sometimes, women presume attaining more degrees, and the accumulation of knowledge will accelerate their rise in the company. Not accurate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women make up more than 56 percent of college students nationwide, but despite this, men still earn higher wages, virtually across the board. Moreover this isn’t a recent occurrence, women have been earning more degrees than men for over twenty years, and yet, nothing major has shifted for women at the top of the corporate ladder. So, yes, get degrees which will directly open doors to your desired level of influence. However, the answer to stunted careers isn’t more degrees. Instead, it’s to be a master at knowing what counts. Yes, apply for a higher-degree because it directly leads to the position you seek—not because you’re feeling insecure or stuck!
Get Quiet: In the middle of turmoil and overwhelming deadlines, pause to meditate or pray. I know everything in you is screaming: Charge! Don’t. Let urgency have a chance to fall away from you. Allow yourself the freedom to rest into the heart of the problem, so that in the stillness of your mind, you touch the space of creativity, your solution initiating engine, and then, reconnect with your today. You’ll be surprised at how much more effective and valuable you are for your company and yourself.
Your senses may be flaring a warning signal: This won’t work! I’ll lose ground! Despite how you feel, take a deep, confident breath and slow down so you can go fast.