As someone who has coached many high performing women, I was asked to participate on a panel discussion at the Kellogg Career Symposium to give women tips on how to manage their careers. Although I can’t do the topics full justice here, several are covered in my new self-paced coaching program, WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance ProgramSM.
1. Focus on the Right Work
Women often take on too much because they may have difficulty saying no, have a desire to prove that they can do it all, or get distracted by work that is less important. At the end of the day, it results in leaving the work that can have the biggest impact on the business and on their careers on the back burner.
So, to help you make more deliberate choices about where you direct your time and energy identify your “Big 3” - the three areas where you can drive business results and make the highest and best use of your talent and skills. Consider how you will really be measured and evaluated, beyond what the formal performance management process is to include what you actually see rewarded and recognized in the company.
2. Tastefully toot your own horn
Women struggle far more with self-promotion than men, so it comes as no surprise that I am asked to present on the topic of Tastefully Tooting Your Own Horn time and again. I consistently hear stories about women who are shocked to hear that others may view them as less effective than they view themselves. So, do these women truly have skill gaps or do they just need to make people more aware of their skills and how they add value/drive results?
Remember that others only see small windows into our accomplishments, so we have to create an authentic and powerful picture of who we are and how we make a difference. So, take the time to proactively and consistently share information in a way that’s relevant to you and your company – i.e., to provide “strategic snapshots.” You never know how others might benefit from your experiences.
3. Consistently focus on building a network of advocates
If you haven’t read it, take a look at this Harvard Business Review article: Why Men Get More Promotions than Women. It points out that although women are more likely than men to have mentors, men talk much more about being sponsored by their mentors. In other words, men typically choose mentors who have power and influence and those mentors advocate on their behalf by giving them exposure, visibility, and access in ways they wouldn’t otherwise get.
So, take a look at your network. Could any of your mentors also be sponsors or advocates? What one step can you take to strengthen your network of support?
4. Maximize the opportunities right in front of you
Finally, remember that every meeting, phone call, interaction is an opportunity to reinforce your brand, build your credibility, or bring a unique perspective. So, take one minute to clarify what you want to get out of the interaction before you walk into one of these situations. It can dramatically shift how you “show up.”
As you know, I am a firm believer that small steps lead to big results. So, choose one of these four areas to focus on this week and identify one action step you will take.