It's true that some women don't want to be promoted to the executive levels. They feel more in control of their time and projects in a middle-management position.
This doesn't mean they lack ambition. On the contrary, many women who don't want to be an executive still want frequent new challenges that test their skills and teach them new ones. They like large companies that will move them around in different positions below the glass ceiling.
So how do you let management know that you are committed to giving your best even if you turn down a promotion?
If you want to keep getting desirable assignments, recognition, and earn generous raises, you need to develop your eye for projects that would have a significant impact on productivity and give you visibility in the company. The goal is to become indispensable so you can maintain political power without having to move up the ladder.
Developing a Strategic Perspective
Most people view their work from a tactical perspective, meaning you focus on how to do your own work better or on how other people can be more productive. You ask, "What needs to get done?" Although you are proactive about improvements, you tend to be fixated on what action is needed now rather than on seeing what hot issues are emerging in your company or your industry.
The skill you need to develop is to evaluate your work from a strategic perspective. This means stepping back and researching what trends are emerging and what issues will need to be addressed six to twelve months from now, based on what changes are going on in your company, industry, marketplace, or the world.
Claire Shipman and Katty Kay describe this focus in their book Womenomics as finding the high-profile, high-reward projects that are just starting to grab everyone's attention. "If you are ahead of the curve on buzz, it also gives you a chance to leap on those areas early on and claim them as yours," say Shipman and Kay. "It makes you and your boss look good, which helps everyone." A strategic focus helps you stand out.
- listening to what the executives are talking about,
- reading the industry newsletters,
- tapping into bloggers who write about your industry,
- joining discussion groups on social media platforms, and
- doing Internet searches on topics that keep coming up.
What's new and needed in your world? Survey the broader landscape to find what's next that you can wrap your passion and energy around. This makes you a perceiver as well as an achiever.
You can also use strategic thinking to analyze your actions before you leap into a task. Let's look at the difference in tactical and strategic thinking with an example of creating a new budget for an upcoming project. If you think tactically as an achiever, you might review a few formats before choosing one you think will work best.
Tactical thinking: What can I do?
Strategic Thinking: What possibilities can I see?
If you think strategically as a perceiver, you first step back to explore the many ways the budget will be used so you can create something that will meet needs as they arise instead of having to make changes along the way. Find the answers to these questions: "What purposes will the budget serve? How will it be used? Who needs to see it? What platforms for sharing will work best? Where can I locate the latest, best practices in creating and displaying this type of budget? What people can I get to help me make the best decision?" Ask these types of questions before you approach any new assignment.
After integrating all good ideas as best you can, you propose your solution to all the stakeholders to get their buy-in and, hopefully, their admiration.
It takes courage to propose out-of-the-box solutions. You may be ignored. You may be chastised. Yet being ignored or laughed at is worth the risk of being in control of your job, which is the more likely scenario if you are working for a company worthy of your gifts.
Make yourself indispensable with a strategic perspective and you have leverage for writing your own job description.