I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”
(comic strip creator,Bill Watterson)
No doubt worthy women executives may have similar sentiments about the unfair gender bias in business. Why is it that when it is time to receive the equal recognition, rewards and promotions that men typically get, women often get the short end of the stick? But, feeling hopeless and helpless is for sure a losing strategy. Instead, leverage my “silver linings playbook” as your method to crash through this glass ceiling to achieve the rewards that you’ve earned.
The “detective” play
– Investigate what your company values, the behaviors it seeks, and the people it promotes. Match this footprint that has successfully been made before you to position yourself to leadership as a viable candidate deserving growth. You have to drink the company’s “Kool-Aid.” If you find it distasteful, you may not be a culture fit, and you will be forever challenged to ever be successful in that environment. Then leave!
The “speak up” play
– Don’t hide it, pride it! If you want a raise, promotion or more responsibility, speak up, and with candor and clarity be able to have the facts and proposition that supports your request. Assuming that your hard work and results will automatically be rewarded is a silent killer. Shine the light on them and promote them yourself, because if you’re not active in your own rescue, it’s unlikely that someone will jump in and save you.
The “champion” play
– Create an advocacy for your presence and efforts of success through a network of individuals both internal and external to your organization who are champions of you, your talents and your experiences. Grow your network by not just leading task forces, but by participating and volunteering on behalf of other efforts of leaders in your organization and the initiatives they support. Be proactive about reaching out to your “champions” and seeking their support and endorsement of you. Don’t be shy!
The “niche” play
– Stand out! In a competitive environment where you and your peers are fighting for the same promotions/rewards, sometimes the talent and experiences are very close. Make yourself more noticeable and highly desirable by showcasing your reputation and exposure in a niche. The niche can be almost anything. This demonstrates that you have a wider leadership view with skills and attributes that are outside the direct line of your company, making you not just interesting, but interested – a crucial quality in creating your success.
The “coach” play
– the very best sports players in the world have coaches. Why? Because winning and losing are very close together and this is an incredible tool to give perspective and nuance to your game. Ask yourself who has “been there and done that” in your field who you can enlist to mentor you to achieve similar success by putting a strategy together with navigational stakes that you can hold yourself accountable to achieve. In the process, you and he/she must have acute sensitivity to your progress so you can make mid-course corrections to more likely achieve your goals. Next, pay it forward. As you break the glass ceiling, you must coach other women to help them to do the same.
The “play” play
– The “boys club” exists because men both like and understand the strategic value of going out in a group to “play” – golf, drinks, entertainment, sporting events, etc. This type of “play” is critical to building a strong and vibrant network of connections from which information that can be critical to your success, often emerges. It’s less exclusionary than you think. Men just don’t consider inviting women and women are often too polite to ask for an invitation. While the reality is that women often have the home responsibility of household and childcare that consumes much of their time outside the office, the equal reality is that if you want to get ahead, this participation has to be part of your strategy.
So create your own “silver linings playbook” and become its leading actor, director, writer and producer to achieve the success and joy you deserve.