This Fundamental Career Mistake Holds Women Back

Women believe that they have to be the best at ‘getting the job done’. They have to prove themselves… prove that they are the most committed and capable.  Your mistake? This is what you almost exclusively focus on. Yet, when leaders make promotion decisions, that’s not the primary deciding factor.  Women go through their careers checking the boxes…. if you go get this experience, if you achieve these outcomes, you’ll be in line for the next role.

But, what typically happens is that the rules change…there are other skills and experiences that you don’t have that you’re told you need…. the bar moves. 

If you’re a woman of color, the bar often is set even higher, and it becomes much harder to compete.

What seems so unfair is that when you look at others around you who are landing those promotions, they are no more qualified or capable than you.

What’s the difference?

What are they doing differently?

What do you need to do differently?

In the interviews for my book, FuelForward, Ralph de Chabert, Chief Diversity Officer for Brown-Forman Corporation shared this perspective: “We continue to struggle with the notion of merit, wanting to believe that’s real. And we want folks to believe that positions are earned through dint of sheer effort, i.e., people grow in an organization because they were rewarded solely for the results achieved through their hard work – I got this position because I earned it.”

My coaching clients often come to me frustrated, having dealt with the confusion of the unfair playing field. They, like you, are looking for solutions. You’re looking for help to understand and navigate the politics that are at work behind the scenes.

How do you begin to change the game for your career starting today?

In my guide, 5 Often Overlooked Strategies to Ensure Career Success, I lay out some steps you can begin to take now to ensure 2018 is a banner year for you.

What Kind of Year Will 2018 Be For Your Career?

What kind of year will 2018 be for your career? Will you make progress, mark time, or fall behind?

Do you feel stuck in a dead-end job, with limited opportunities to advance? Are you waiting for your boss or HR to manage your career? Have you interviewed for a promotion a few times, but haven’t gotten selected? Do you love your job, but know it’s time to move on? Are you already on the hi-po track, but need to stand out in the pile?

You have more control than you think over the outcomes in your career. Don’t look back with disappointment. Make the most of this year, starting now.

A shift in mindset can give you the power to make change happen.

Following are six often overlooked ways to shift your mental power to ensure 2018 is a banner year for you, and questions you can ask yourself to get on the right track.

1. Find happiness

Success is hard to come by if you’re not happy in your life and work.  True happiness starts within. Consider who and what are important to you. Carve out time to spend with the special people in your life. Make room for things you like to do. Though you won’t always have work-life balance, there are times when you can create it. When things are going well in your personal life, you can better focus on and create happiness at work. 

    • Who / what is important in my life?
    • Who / what drains my energy and happiness?
    • At what points am I most happy?

2. Commit to a positive, can-do attitude

Negative people are always complaining… “I can’t”, “That’ll never work”, “We’ve always done it this way.”  Don’t let that be you. With a positive, can do attitude, you’ll have more friends and opportunities in your career. Your attitude impacts not only others, but also how you feel about yourself and what you can accomplish.

    • What kind of attitude do I bring to work every day?
    • What negative self-talk keeps me from believing in myself?

3. Set short-term career goals

To consistently make progress, set smaller, shorter-term goals that are stepping stones toward your longer-term career goals. Setting short term goals will help you make decisions about your work, development priorities, and sought experiences.

    • What do I want to have accomplished by the end of this year?
    • What experience and expertise do I need to gain this year in order to make progress toward my career goals? 

4. Choose to lead

Titles don’t make the leader, your actions and ‘how’ you engage others make you a leader.  You don’t need a title to be accountable for achieving business results or to influence others. Take initiative to speak up or ask the tough questions. Take action when you see something needs to be done. Don’t wait to be asked. Influence others to engage in solving problems and getting things done.

    • What opportunities do I have to step up and be a leader?
    • In what situations might I need to influence others, especially where I don’t have direct authority?

5. Set personal stretch goals

You’ve probably established official goals for the year with your manager. If you want to stand out, you need to go beyond that. Your stated performance goals are really minimum expectations. Strive to hit the ball out of the park, not just run all the bases. Your track record of execution is the foundation for future career opportunities.

    • What can I reasonably accomplish beyond my stated performance goals?

6. Live in the present

Avoid missing out on life because you’re always wondering ‘what if’…. “If only I had this.” “If I just had that job.”  Enjoy ‘life’ where you are. Be grateful. Make the most of what you have and where you are right now. Stop wishing your life away with what could be, and take advantage of ‘what is’. You are given 1,440 minutes each day. Appreciate the gift of each moment.

    • Am I truly appreciating where I am right now?
    • What are all the things I can be grateful for?

Take the next step

Want to see progress? Challenge yourself to try each of these strategies.

Find out what a difference your intention will make in fueling your career forward! 

Download my guide to check out the 5 practical steps you can take to ensure career success in 2018, plus the questions you can ask yourself to get you on the right track. As a bonus, you’ll get a My Reflections & Action Ideas planner to help you get started.