An alliance is different than a friendship in the workplace.
By Joanna Lord (Director of Customer Acquisition & Retention, SEOmoz)

Over the years I’ve worked with a number of brilliant women. I’ve been fortunate to learn from them and absorb their knowledge. However, I wasn’t that good at this earlier in my career. I think back to my past jobs, and the women that I worked with, and wish I had taken the time to learn more from them.

So what went wrong? Ambition sometimes. Competitiveness others. The truth of it is early in my career I was too concerned with taking a stand on my own two feet to truly appreciate the value of someone else’s. Guess where that got me? Nowhere really. Standing alone with my own opinions… no closer to a compromise… no closer to a solution.

In my experiences its those moments – the ones when you can’t look past your own ambition toward a common goal — that really build this glass ceiling we all see here and there. We are talking ourselves into stagnation. It’s a sad, and self-inflicted reality.

The truth is you simply can’t be the best you without help from others. This is where alliances with other women in the workplaces can be so insanely valuable. Each of us has strengths or skillsets we were hired for. Some of us are great leaders, and some of us are workhorses, or great problem solvers. Some of are big thinkers, and some of us are meticulous by nature. But none of us are all of these things (trust me on this friends, I’ve tried and it’s a hot mess). That’s where alliances come in.

An alliance is different than a friendship in the workplace. Friends in the workplace keep you laughing, and motivated. They keep you centered and thankful (hopefully). However, our alliances in the workplace are the yin to your yang.

Alliances with other women at work offer a perspective you might struggle to see. They offer constructive criticism, and sometimes they out right smack you with the realization that you are wrong. They do this with the best of intentions – honesty and support. These are the relationships you should seek out at work. There is a beautiful power in these alliances.

As a woman in the workplace it can be a challenge to be vulnerable to your coworkers. It can be hard to open up when you are frustrated or visibly show that you are overwhelmed. But let’s be honest with each other for a hot minute – is it not human to feel these emotions? That’s where alliances come in. These alliances are the people you set coffee dates with and open up to. They have the ability to both remind you that you are doing amazingly but also remind you that you have room to grow.

Growing as a entrepreneur, as a business woman, and as a leader takes more than our own ambition… it takes people there to stretch us. Aligning yourself with another coworker that pushes you out of your comfort zone is critical to success. I urge each of you to look around and find someone that holds a completely different set of skills and then grab coffee with them. Next time you find yourself struggling with where you stand or where to go, seek out an opinion entirely different than your own. It’s in these opinions we really can grow and become our best selves.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
Photo credit: Todd Webber on Flickr.
About the guest blogger: Joanna Lord is Director of Customer Acquisition and Retention at SEOmoz, an inbound marketing software provider out of Seattle, WA. Her background is in performance marketing and analytics, but she jumped on the social media bandwagon back when Plurk was cool. She loves big thinkers, entrepreneurship, and coffee. You can read more of what she has to say on her own blog. Follow her on Twitter at @joannalord.