Just before the pandemic hit western countries, International Women’s day was celebrating stories of women with successful careers. It was imperative for the organizers to point out that members of any gender can achieve their economic goals if they put their minds to it.
In amongst all the rhetoric, however, there seemed to be an admission. If you want a successful career as a woman, you need to take a slightly different tack. You can’t just go wading in like some alpha male, lauding it over your colleagues. That type of approach doesn’t usually fit. Whenever successful women spoke, they talked about how they’d won using strategies that reflected their personalities. They weren’t just emulating the most powerful males in the office. Instead, they carved their own path, using their unique characteristics.
So what precisely do women who want to get ahead in their careers need to do to progress? Let’s take a look.
Take Steps Today To Build A Brighter Tomorrow
Some of us go through life, expecting the stuff we want to come to us. This belief, though, is misplaced. That’s not how the world works. If you want to get something out of life, you have to go for it – there are practically no exceptions.
With that said, many women sit around waiting for their perfect lover or career to come along, as if it just happens by magic. But that wasn’t the message of successful people who managed to claw their way to the top on International Women’s Day. Their main point was that getting anywhere requires consistent hard work every day. If you’re not prepared to put in the time, you won’t get anything out the other side.
This point is particularly relevant right now in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t sit around, waiting for opportunities to land in your lap. If you’re out of work, start looking at your options now. There are all sorts of jobs out there. And even the most superficially mundane often mask infinite complexity for you to get your teeth into. If you’re stuck for options, allow yourself to look below your paygrade – you might find that it provides you with a path to excellence.
Develop Secondary Talents
Employers want people to fulfill roles. When they design them, they deliberately look for candidates with a narrow set of skills that performs a specific function. Therefore, the people they hire tend to be extremely competent in their target area, but brittle everywhere else.
Developing secondary talents, however, allows you to add unexpected value to your employer – something that can increase their estimation of you immeasurably. Everyone expects you to be able to perform the primary elements of your role. But if you can complete new tasks to a high level of competence out of the blue, then it can create a real impact on the people around you.
Being strategic about this can help. Instead of focusing on something you enjoy, nurture the skills you think employers might need. Learning how to use Excel isn’t as fun as playing the piano, but it does a lot to increase your economic value. Managers start seeing you as “multi-talented,” increasing their confidence when promoting you.
Exude Confidence In Your Interactions
People respond to the outward confidence of others. The more you appear relaxed and in control of a situation, the more they trust and respect you.
This phenomenon is a little weird and, frankly, annoying for people who lack confidence but are good at what they do. With that said, confidence and leadership are muscles. The more you practice them, the stronger you get. Eventually, taking control becomes a part of your personality, and it starts coming naturally. Your brain switches into a tribal mode where you become the leader, and everyone around you are your subjects.
Facebook COO and author of Lean In, Cheryl Sandberg, says that professional women need to remind themselves of their potential continually. Most women have a capacity for greatness in the workplace – it’s just a matter of bringing it out.
Learn The Difference Between Positive And Negative Criticism
Women are often very concerned with the social world. You care immensely about how other people perceive you and what they think about your work. Intellectually, you know that accepting criticism is vital because you can use it to improve. But you also get the feeling that some of your colleagues leave feedback insincerely.
The trick here is to know when criticism is valid and when it isn’t. The difference isn’t always so clear cut.
Constructive criticism helps you to develop yourself and improve the work you do. People who provide it are actually doing you a favor. You can use their insights to further your career and get to the next stage faster.
Destructive criticism is the opposite. People don’t design it to help you; instead, they use it to bring you down. The difference between these types of comments and the former is that they don’t provide you with a way out. They make you feel trapped in your mediocrity.
Procrastination is the leading reason why so many careers stagnate. Workers get used to a particular routine and then stick with it longer than they know they should.
Putting off important work is another major bugbear that prevents people from moving forward. Doing easy tasks while leaving the harder ones until later is the best way to wreck your career fast.
If you’re putting something off, use strategies to help you start the task, even if you don’t want to. Sometimes, committing to writing the first sentence of a report can help you bash out the whole thing. Or spending fifteen minutes with a difficult client can be all you need to improve your relationship with them. Remember, putting things off is an act of aggression against your future self – and that’s something you want to protect.
Become The Most Qualified Person In The Room
Experience is essential, but nothing compares to being the most qualified person in the room when it comes to moving your career forward. Education backed up by usable knowledge is the fastest way to gain your peers’ respect and put yourself in a prime position to move forward.
Getting an online masters in business, for instance, can help practically any woman move forward quickly. Learning essential skills like accounting allows you to deliver value immediately and progress quickly from one phase of your career to the next.
Try if you can to get an education that will help you right now, and in the future. Choose a course that will position you favorably against your office rivals. Don’t just go with your passion. Think strategically about the skills that you need to win.
Seek Out Difficult Tasks
The modern market system rewards rarity. Diamonds are expensive because only a few kilos of them come out of the ground every year. Professional soccer stars get paid enormous wages because relatively few people have their tremendous level of skill. You get the picture.
You can make yourself rare, too, by developing skills that allow you to complete difficult tasks. Bosses are desperate for people who can solve their problems and sort out their businesses. Only rarely, though, do they find them.
Don’t expect immediate rewards for contending with the most challenging issues in the business. Often you’ll just get a pat on the back. But eventually, as you solve more problems, your worth will become clear. Finally, people will consider you to be “leadership material,” even if your solutions didn’t involve your leadership skills at all. Often competence in a narrow area is enough to convince colleagues they should move you further up the hierarchy.
Becoming accomplished builds value, regardless of how your current place of work responds. As you introduce more resistance to your life, you increase your capacity to overcome it. Eventually, problems that once seemed insurmountable become much easier to resolve, often to the surprise of people around you. You can then use those skills to apply for more senior positions outside your existing company.
Ultimately, you want to build your skills to the point where it seems like you can do the impossible. The faster you can deliver on your promises, the more likely you’ll eventually find a higher-paying role. Sometimes, you can learn so much it makes economic sense to strike out by yourself.
Never Give Up
When you’re at work having a bad day, it can feel like the world is against you, and you’ll never move forward. Giving up at this point is the worst possible thing you can do. Often it seems darkest before the dawn. Eventually, something will break, and you can move out of your current situation. It might take months – it might take years – but it does eventually happen.
Keep pushing forward, look for new opportunities, and keep your mind alert. Eventually, you’ll get something that provides you with the quality of life you deserve. The reason people get stuck in a rut is that they give up.
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