Succeeding as a woman in business can be a tricky balancing act, but it’s one that you can master.
By Leah Rise (Director of Search & Social, seoWorks)
Women in business is a fascinating topic for me and one very close to my heart. I’ve had the good fortune to have incredible female mentors in my life as well as a couple who made fine examples of who not to emulate.
We women have the opportunity to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders or most feared enemy. Whether you’re destined to be a leader but haven’t paid your dues yet, or have already achieved the coveted leadership role, my advice would be: learn to balance both the Beauty and the Beast.
Be Aware of the Beast Within
It’s 2014, yet many women still think they have something to prove and show up to work with a chip on their shoulder. This is unnecessary for a myriad of reasons with the main one being, unless you’re over 65, you didn’t fight the front line battle for workplace equality. With 8.6 million women running businesses across the country and more in top and middle management positions, it’s clear women are capable leaders. Keep your focus on getting the job done and don’t get side-tracked with nonsense.
“Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” – Jeff Olsen author of Slight Edge
If you’re not where you want to be in your career, set goals not excuses. Put in writing where you would like to be 5 years from now and design a year by year plan for meeting the mark. It sounds cliché but you really are the only one who can hold you back.
There is no Beauty in Assuming the Worst
Assumptions in the business world cause a myriad of problems. Go ahead and admit it, we women are quick to assume, sometimes to our detriment. Don’t be the teary eyed girl who gets upset about being passed over for a promotion and assumes its gender related, or worse, personal. A missed deadline by a team member doesn’t necessarily mean you’re viewed as a weak leader.
Take the time to understand your co-workers and use their strengths to your (and their) advantage and help them to nurture their weaknesses. It is a very true thing to say that you’re only as good as your weakest link. We all know who that person is – don’t begrudge them, help them. Their success is your success and if you see it any different… you won’t go far.
Contain the Beast
Leaders of both genders have days where they simply want to snap. I hate to admit it, but in my experience, female leaders tend to follow through on the bite-your-head-off phase more often than males. Even in a situation where someone has earned a tongue lashing that only a female boss can deliver; your employees will respect you more for showing restraint. They’re likely beating themselves up harder than you ever could anyway. People are just people and while their memories may fade on the compliments you have given…they will never forget your lashing.
The Balancing Act of Beauty & the Beast
I’ve had some cut-throat female supervisors and their lack of leadership skills were perfect examples of what not to do. Unless you’re in the military, barking or managing with intimidation and threats isn’t going to work. It leads directly to personnel turnover and chaos. Instead, lead by example – being firm when necessary. Most employees respect a leader who questions and redirects. A good leader never, under any circumstances, belittles or subordinates.
If you find yourself working for someone constantly operating from intimidation-mode, consider it a learning experience. Honestly, it’s as valuable as a year’s worth of college business classes. You may feel you’ve been thrown to the wolves but with hard work and perseverance, you’ll come back leading the pack.
Beast Mode: Never Stop Improving
Beast Mode goes beyond a cross-fit obsession – it’s about hard work and determination. Whether it’s continuing education, practical skills or staying informed about the industry you’re in, it’s go hard or go home. This goes for guys too – this isn’t something specific to women. Nothing extra is expected because you’re a girl. Extra is demanded because you’re a leader.
Make a point to learn something new about your particular business at least once a week. If you haven’t achieved leadership or business ownership yet, this activity alone will put you on track.
Beauty & the Beast – It’s What Leadership is All About
While still not exactly even in numbers with men, more women than ever are in leadership roles. Powerful female leaders like Barbara Walters, Margaret Thatcher and Condoleezza Rice have paved the way for women who want it all. We’ve come so far in only a few short decades and it’s incredible to see what women are truly capable of. It’s about finding that balance, exploiting our own strengths and remembering that hard word and good leadership in tandem won’t fail.
How do you find this balancing act?