It’s a fact: women in business are on the rise. We’ve all heard of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, both of whom rocketed through the glass ceiling to become household names. And those two famous females are hardly alone: women now occupy 24% of corporate senior leadership positions around the world. What’s more, 37% of worldwide entities in the formal sector are owned by women.
Here’s the takeaway for smart women: Those numbers are exciting. You can, and should, take advantage of women’s advances to propel yourself to greater personal and professional success.
As the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar legal nurse consulting education company and author of the book Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman, I speak from experience.
One factor propelling women onward and upward is their unwillingness to be treated like a commodity. It seems it’s finally sinking in that women are already CEOs—Chief Everything Officers—of our lives and families. Entrepreneurship, leading projects, facilitating teamwork, and more are simply extensions of what we already excel at, and our expertise is a huge asset to companies when channeled professionally.
Read on for 11 tips to help you take advantage of the changing tide:
Act like the executive you strive to be. Every day at work is an audition for an executive position. The more you act the part, the more likely you’ll be cast for the position. At my company, there were two female executives who were already running their departments even if their official titles didn’t reflect that. It was a no-brainer to advance them.
Don’t be a commodity. Don’t shrink into your chair and become the invisible employee. Make your presence count in every meeting, brainstorm and project.
Go big or go home. Remember, where you engage and focus is where you will get results. Going after the significant projects gets you noticed and promoted faster. There’s a reason men don’t volunteer to organize the holiday party.
Run the corporate marathon. Clock-watchers who go home exactly at quitting time are never around for promotions. Work as hard as, or harder than, your boss.
Check yourself at the door. Unless you’re experiencing a serious life circumstance that will impact your ability to perform your job, like an illness or a death in the family, keep your personal woes to yourself. Successful people make the difficult look easy while the less successful whine and complain their way through the simplest of projects.
Network with big players. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know is a truism that is still alive and well in the corporate sector. Successful people spend time with other successful people, not with novices and low performers—and they limit their exposure to individuals who are at a similar level.
Be your own number one fan. It can be hard for women to toot their own horns. But here’s a newsflash: if you don’t announce your own achievements, no one else is going to do it for you. With humility, make sure that you’re keeping your name, your accomplishments, and your skill set in front of everyone.
Don’t underprice yourself. Many women mistakenly think they’re doing their employers a favor by not pushing for more or that they’ll be more appealing if they don’t ask for what they’re worth. However, you should know that like many CEOs, when I’m hiring, I weed out candidates who underprice themselves because I assume they won’t perform at the level I expect.
Be confident. Confidence is a prerequisite for moving up, and you should have plenty of it. Anytime you find yourself entertaining doubts or trying to limit what you think is possible, remind yourself of your past successes. Let them infuse you with confidence and bolster your resolve. Believing you can do it—whatever “it” is—is 90% of the win.
Know that everything is marketing. Having great ideas is one thing, but if you can’t figure out a way to sell them to everyone else, you’ll be stuck. Pouting, raising your voice or endlessly repeating yourself only reinforces that you have nothing important to contribute. You must intelligently and persuasively market your ideas and the person behind those ideas.
Be a woman, not a poor imitation of a man. Be yourself. No successful woman ever got anywhere waiting for women’s equality in the workplace to “happen.” Instead, use your innate qualities to shape and fuel your success.
Here’s one last thought to buoy you as you sally forth to help womankind rise to much-deserved, new heights. Adding women to groups increases those groups’ collective intelligence! In other words, corporations who still rely on the good ole boy network are making (and keeping) themselves stupid. In my opinion, it’s time for all of us to get in touch with our inner female strengths and rescue the traditionally male-dominated business world from itself. You’ve never been in a better position to make your mark.
About the Author
Vickie L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (WickedSuccess.com). From a shotgun house in New Orleans to owner of a $16-million business, New York Times best-selling author Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc. Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.
Vickie is the owner of Vickie Milazzo Institute, an education company she founded in 1982. Featured in the New York Times as the pioneer of a new profession, she built a professional association of more than 4,000 members.