I am not a feminist…far from it. Quite frankly, I believe as women we need to put on our “big girl panties” as it relates to business. So many of the outstanding women I have met over the years carry significant potential to be a tremendous asset in business. But women can do things that sabotage or stifle their careers. Through observation…here are my top five:
1) They giggle.
This is such a pet peeve of mine that I will point it out to a person I interview when it happens. Self confidence is attractive as is smarts. But what happens to some female business professionals is they will make a brilliant comment and in her lack of confidence in the comment or her contribution overall, she giggles after she says it. Takes away all the brilliance and just leaves the impression of ditsy. Make your statement and then stand firm in confidence. So what if it’s not perfect…think everything your male counterparts say is?
2) Women don’t keep score like men do.
Men are built with more of an ego than most women. They track successes throughout their career. I am convinced this is engrained in them from Little League on. They learn how to compete and learn how to win.
Women say “really it was nothing”…but again, who keeps score in ballet? The boys and girls in the baby boomer generation grew up in very different environments. Thank goodness this is changing!
Men can tell you the successes along each step of their career and that’s a good thing. In my business of Executive Search, it has become obvious to me that men are promoted based on potential but women are promoted based on actual performance, so ladies keep score of your performance.
3) Women feel guilty or even worse; they let others make them feel guilty.
My favorite job in the whole world is being Katie’s Mom. I am so proud of my daughter. But rest assured no one gets to make me feel guilty for being successful at the cost of being a good mom. Women in business know how to multi-task….it’s one of the things I like best about my female co-workers….they get things done! Yes, I’ve heard it all as I’m sure many of you reading this….”I could never miss a play or a parent teacher conference because of a job”. Well we don’t, it’s our career. My daughter knows if there is any way I can be there, I will. She also gets the example that hard work won’t kill you and can provide you with great options and open doors for your future. We talk about it all the time…it’s the best of both worlds and I get to be a role model in all aspects of her life.
4) Women lose their voice when it’s most important.
We do still live in a male dominated leadership business world. Women are scared to be heard! I’m here to share with you that the “Emotional Intelligence” a woman can bring to business is worth any new widget on the market. How people “attach” to all business partners is critical to repeat business. Women win this one…we are predesigned with this relational wiring! Use this skill to your advantage…and speak up. They don’t call it “women’s intuition” for nothing.
5) Women have been fighting this perceived battle for so long they forget to pull other women along the trail with them.
Everyone needs a great coach or mentor, that one person who blazed the trail before them. Some of my best friends are these women…they broke the glass ceiling, shattered it actually, and help others to find their voice, stand up and be counted. Because of that they have developed relationships that count and they too have received great benefit. Seek these women out or share your own learning. We’re all in this together.
Ok so my bonus point I have to add in. Seriously I could never leave it out in an article on this topic:
6). When a male leader makes a tough decision- they are clear of thought and decisive….a female leader makes the same tough decision, well, she’s a bitch.
Boy, isn’t this a tough one! Every woman in a leadership role has felt and heard this. Advice on this is tough but I know personally I’ve developed really thick skin. Those people who said that…I’d put my career up against theirs any day. I’m leaning in and capturing life! No excuses for good business sense.
So to get back to my non-feminist comment, I really do believe my male counterparts in business are fabulous. Brilliant and successful. I applaud their tenacity and learn from it everyday. The women I know are brilliant too….it’s just time we all take notice.
Authored by Employment Resource Group CEO Sharon Hulce