Gender diversity is important in the workforce and armed with the right tools, it is a great time for women to aspire to leadership positions.
Below are five things that women should do if they are looking to advance in their position. This advice will help women overcome the myriad invisible barriers that exist within the corporate world and political system.
1. Don't wait for perfection. Many Gen Y women associate leadership with perfection. They often hold off on taking leadership positions because they see it as a daunting task and have the mentality that "in order to do anything, you have to be everything." The reality is leadership is not about perfection, but rather it is about values and tenacity. You don't have to be perfect; you just have to have the drive and determination to succeed.
2. Be assertive. Many men are willing to take risks, including asking for a promotion or a raise. Women, on the other hand, can be very pragmatic, considering the risks, but not the rewards. While you do not want to go out on a limb if your request or pursuit is doomed to fail, sometimes it is worth stretching a little as there often is "no harm in asking."
3. Manage your talent. Duties of a job evolve and employees need to evolve too. While you should always play to your strengths and core competencies, you should consider taking a class or reading a book to develop a new skill or master one that you are weak in. Think of new ways to expand your skill set, knowledge and experiences -- the more well-rounded you are the better.
4. Build allies. The more people who support you and want to see you succeed, the greater your chance of being recognized for your hard work. This doesn't mean you need to be best friends with everyone in your office, but you should develop good working relationships and develop allies who can go to bat for you if your boss has any doubts.
5. Make good decisions. This might seem intuitive, but gossiping around the water cooler, brushing off an invitation to go to a BBQ at your boss's house because you have better plans or wearing inappropriate clothing can damage your reputation and your chance at moving up the corporate ladder. If you want to be a leader, you need to act like a leader and make sound, responsible decisions.
Dr. Bernice Ledbetter is Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on leadership and values, especially gender differences, as well as on moral developmental and non-western approaches to leadership. She is a Principal in Ledbetter Consulting Group and has worked extensively as a career management consultant and team performance coach for individuals and major organizations.
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