BOOK EX­TRACT:

Twelve habits that hold women back in their ca­reers

Fairlady - - CONTENTS -

women tend to cri­tique them­selves in­stead of oth­ers, they say, while men of­ten pre­fer to de­flect blame. This opens women up to cer­tain be­havioural habits that can mire them pro­fes­sion­ally. To get un­stuck, first you need to recog­nise that these be­hav­iours are not in­trin­sic to your char­ac­ter – then you can be­gin to re­wire your brain to sup­port new, more help­ful habits that, with prac­tice, can be­come your de­fault mode. How many of these habits are you guilty of?

1 RE­LUC­TANCE TO CLAIM YOUR ACHIEVE­MENTS

Many women strug­gle to bring vis­i­bil­ity to their suc­cesses; they’re un­com­fort­able us­ing the ‘I’ word and would rather be ig­nored than risk look­ing ar­ro­gant. The cost of this is most sig­nif­i­cant when you’re try­ing to move to the next level. It sends a mes­sage that you don’t value your achieve­ments – so why should oth­ers?

2

The corol­lary of habit 1 is that many women hold the be­lief that ‘great work should speak for it­self’. If you take this ap­proach, you may be di­min­ish­ing your job sat­is­fac­tion, be­cause you’ll end up feel­ing un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated and your hard work may be over­looked.

3 EX­PECT­ING OTH­ERS TO SPON­TA­NEOUSLY NO­TICE AND RE­WARD YOUR CON­TRI­BU­TIONS OVERVALUING EX­PER­TISE

Try­ing to master ev­ery de­tail of your job can put you on an end­less tread­mill. Mean­while, your male col­leagues may be tak­ing a dif­fer­ent route, do­ing the job well enough while fo­cus­ing on the re­la­tion­ships and vis­i­bil­ity that will get them to the next level. The top jobs in­volve lead­ing oth­ers who have ex­per­tise, not pro­vid­ing ex­per­tise your­self.

4 BUILD­ING RATHER THAN LEVER­AG­ING RE­LA­TION­SHIPS

Why don’t women ben­e­fit more from their abil­ity to build re­la­tion­ships? Be­cause great ca­reers are built not only on tal­ent or hard work, but also on the mu­tual ex­change of ben­e­fit – some­thing men are more of­ten com­fort­able with, as women don’t want to ap­pear self-serv­ing. Ask your­self: could this per­son’s con­nec­tions be use­ful to me? Is she poised to be­come more pow­er­ful? And what can I of­fer her that will make her ea­ger to share her net­work with me?

5 FAIL­ING TO EN­LIST AL­LIES FROM DAY ONE

Women in new po­si­tions of­ten keep their heads down un­til they feel con­fi­dent they can per­form su­perbly. It’s more ef­fec­tive to start by ask­ing: ‘Who should I con­nect with to make this job a suc­cess?’ This de­liv­ers more sup­port, bet­ter po­si­tion­ing and greater vis­i­bil­ity, while also be­ing less work. Al­lies are the heart and soul of a suc­cess­ful ca­reer.

6 PUTTING YOUR JOB BE­FORE YOUR CA­REER

Ta­lented women quickly as­cend, but may then find them­selves plateau­ing. This is of­ten the re­sult of get­ting

‘Striv­ing to be per­fect dis­tracts you from the big pic­ture. Fo­cus­ing on the de­tails of what might go wrong can cre­ate a neg­a­tive mind­set – neg­a­tiv­ity is never val­ued in a leader.’ How Women Rise by Sally Helge­sen and Mar­shall Gold­smith (Ran­dom House Books, about R240) is out now.

caught in the loy­alty trap. Stay­ing in the same job too long be­cause you’re loyal to your boss or your team can un­der­mine self-worth and longterm sat­is­fac­tion, and neg­a­tively im­pact earn­ing po­ten­tial. It sends a mes­sage that you don’t be­lieve you de­serve bet­ter.

7 THE PER­FEC­TION TRAP

Striv­ing to be per­fect dis­tracts you from the big pic­ture. Fo­cus­ing on the de­tails of what might go wrong can cre­ate a neg­a­tive mind­set – neg­a­tiv­ity is never val­ued in a leader. The fear of mis­takes may be seen as proof that women can’t make the grade. In or­der to rise, you have to be open to risk-tak­ing, learn to trust your­self and oth­ers, and be will­ing to del­e­gate.

8 THE DIS­EASE TO PLEASE

The de­sire to be won­der­ful in all cir­cum­stances – to be thought­ful and nice and make ev­ery­one around you feel good – is preva­lent among women. But if you fear dis­ap­point­ing oth­ers, it can rob you of author­ity, dis­tract you from your true pur­pose, and squan­der your time and tal­ents by say­ing yes too of­ten.

9 PHYS­I­CAL AND VER­BAL MIN­IMIS­ING

To make room for oth­ers, women of­ten min­imise their own phys­i­cal space. Con­stant apolo­gies are also min­imis­ers. Shrink­ing your­self un­der­mines your abil­ity to project author­ity. Avoid lan­guage min­imis­ers too: ‘I just need a minute of your time’, ‘Maybe this isn’t im­por­tant’, ‘You may have thought of this al­ready’. Just say what you mean.

10 TOO MUCH IN­FOR­MA­TION

Women of­ten re­ceive feed­back that they’re too in­tense – too much emo­tion, too many words, too much dis­clo­sure. Emo­tions are the well­spring of your in­tu­ition, en­ergy and pas­sion, but speak­ing in the grip of emo­tion is a bad prac­tice. Learn­ing to be con­cise will pay div­i­dends.

11 RU­MI­NAT­ING ON MIS­TAKES

Re­search shows that women are more likely to re­live their set­backs and blame them­selves, which can ob­struct their abil­ity to re­solve prob­lems. The more you chew over past events, the more your brain gets ac­cus­tomed to it. In­ter­rup­tion and dis­trac­tion are the most ef­fec­tive means of let­ting go of neg­a­tive thoughts and mov­ing on.

12 LET­TING THE DE­TAILS DIS­TRACT YOU

One of women’s great strengths is the abil­ity to no­tice a lot of things at once, but many or­gan­i­sa­tions still re­gard laser fo­cus – ‘just get to the bot­tom line’ – as lead­er­ship be­hav­iour. Tun­ing in to too many noises can make it hard to fil­ter out dis­trac­tions, but it can be cor­rected by re­fram­ing what you no­tice.

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