“The world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.” ~ Margaret Wheatley
It’s exciting to see millions of women embrace their place in the business world today. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as of 2017, “11.6 million firms are owned by women.” Yet, it is disappointing to see that many leadership positions are still closed to them.
Why do women find leadership positions so elusive? Because leadership has long been “a man’s world,” women feel like they have to act like men to succeed. They think they have to be just as tough and competitive as a man. But when they’re confronted with office politics, they falter, because men and women fundamentally differ in their views on power and influence. And that’s not a bad thing.
It’s important to recognize the strengths that you, as a woman, bring to the table. You don’t have to act like a man. You have a powerful asset that they don’t – the power of collaboration. We, as women, use our influence as collaborators all the time in our families and communities. Now it’s time to learn to authentically use your influence as a collaborator in business, as well.
The book, “The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders,” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, Mary Davis Holt, Diana Faison shares some wonderful suggestions…
Think bigger. I love the visualization exercise they recommend: image yourself achieving everything you want professionally under these two conditions – you can’t remain in your current position, and you can’t fail. Try it and see how it expands your thinking.
Be prepared for self-limiting beliefs to creep in. They’ll try to keep you small, but you can mindfully shift them to positive ones. If they’re really stubborn, find a friend, colleague, or mentor who can be your “truth teller.”
Manage relationships and collaborate. Even when you “don’t feel like it,” work to build genuine relationships and strategic connections. Take advantage of casual office settings and social networking events. Greet people warmly every morning. Be well prepared for your meetings and actively participate with a view to performing well. Even organize group events that your business associates will enjoy.
It’s important to pay attention to the following people within your business sphere:
- colleagues who will support you,
- key decision makers or influencers who can sponsor and promote you, and
- opponents who can make political maneuvering less complex.
Anticipate the long-term impact and cumulative results. Engage your curiosity as you visualize the outcome you desire. Consider all the options and think two or three moves ahead. This will help you identify what you need to do next to obtain your ideal results.
Acquire an executive presence. Take ownership of your career. You determine your vision, goals and path. No one can do it for you. Don’t let people underestimate you, because of the way you present yourself. NLP techniques will help you earn respect and inspire trust, so people want to work with you, recommend you and promote you.
Turn challenges into advantages. For example, women aren’t getting important feedback from male executives. That’s a challenge! You don’t know how to improve, because no one is talking. Take the initiative and ask for specific feedback. Now you have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s expected of you.
Companies that encourage and develop women in leadership positions benefit in a number of ways. Women tend to bring fresh perspectives because of their life experience and talents. Their collaborative influence increases employee engagement and higher productivity, which translates into more revenue. These advantages alone give companies a global competitive edge.
Are you ready to uncover the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (Also note the dates have changed slightly, since our first announcement. We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) I sincerely hope you take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.