The ways you can make sure gender diversity does not affect your ability to create your dreams may not change the world, but they will change your world.
Last time, I talked about your belief in yourself that you can do whatever the goal is that you have set for yourself. This is key to everything else, so if you missed that blog go back and read it!
The other two things you can do to challenge the glass ceiling is:
- Colaborate with others.
- Have a goal you truly desire.
Cooperation and collaboration are keys to anyone’s success, male or female. However, women tend to be so focused proving themselves that they often alienate co-workers around them or at a minimum work as lone wolves instead of part of the pack. It may seem that if there is one position you are eyeing then you are in competition for it with everyone else.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when you help others achieve success in a spirit of harmony you will find even better positions open for you than the one you helped them into.
Notice I did not say helped them by playing supporting actress, or behind the scenes star while they took the limelight.
Your attitude towards cooperation, especially if you are in an organization that is prone to competition and possibly worse, will be your key. Too many women find themselves helping others succeed in a position of subservience or one-down positions — whether you end up doing secretarial tasks or research for someone else’s project, invisibly. These are actions that we sometimes take on by habit and other times do resentfully because someone else seems to assume it is our role.
The key is to find a way to reframe the situation to be inclusive of your strengths rather than diminishing your role. Here is an example. Assume a co-worker and you are working on a similar project, or two pieces of the project and he asks you for help on what he is doing. If you step in and help, you could be pumping up his contribution invisibly and reducing time on your area. If you refuse, you set up a negative energy between you and possibly within the team. Early in my career, I often found myself helping them and then working late to meet my own commitments. This is not the recipe to follow.
What you can do is acknowledge their need and say you noticed some other things that also were causing people delay. Suggest the team get together to review everyone’s area. Take the lead and reframe the project based on what is needed and what you all have learned since starting. Encourage everyone’s involvement and look for other things that need to be addressed — in addition to the one request of you. You can offer to do the research or other item, but now as part of your own accomplishment rather than silently behind the scenes.
You will be seen as leader, a team player and your work will now be visible. The goal must be for the success of the team, not to show off that you are taking more work.
Be sure you reframe the request in a way that does not put the other person down but broadens the issue to a larger scale.
Another solution is to say you would be happy to help work on it with them, after you finish your own commitment. Then collaborate on it together rather than do it for them. This builds bonds and helps someone feel you have their back. Later they will be more likely to have yours.
Cooperation goes way beyond helping another team member out. Each time you have a big project, see if you can include people from other departments in the solution. By gaining outside ownership in your project you not only receive help towards your success you start to learn more about other parts of the business required as you move up in the organization. You also will diminish resistance to any suggestions you later make if these departments have had input in the areas it affects them. Promotions are often given to people who are already known to department heads in other areas.
If you are a small business owner, you can find other businesses who sell to a similar customer base and create a collaborative marketing campaign. There are endless examples of ways to boost your own career while helping others. Look for them and soon you will see them everywhere. When you do and you begin to act on your ideas you will be amazed at how much easier it is to succeed.
The last part of conquering the glass ceiling is about your goals. I talk about this a lot; however, next time we will be looking at it as it pertains to your career and the obstacles you may have encountered as a woman.