Confidence is Key for Women in Business
10 Oct, 2012
5 simple rules can help women capitalize on their strengths to successfully lead businessesI am sure all of you have read business books about what people do or what they tell people to do—lead, follow, invent, innovate, time manage—the top 10 ways to get ahead in today’s business world without losing your mind. Add to this books specifically aimed at women in business and you have another entire genre. With all of these self-help business books, there doesn’t seem to be any room for different thoughts.
My own experience in becoming a corporate executive and then a female entrepreneur is unique to me. Just recently, I left a 34-year corporate career to become a small business of one! I had learned everything about what to do, and what not to, while in my various corporate jobs. It was time for me to build my own practice. What I realized most of all was that in following a few rules I had gained the confidence to be a businesswoman in my own right:
Five Simple Rules
Rule 1: Permission to Get Help
We constantly hear about work life balance, having it all or not having it all. Let’s face it–these options are just plain hard. I have been a wife, mother and corporate executive—sometimes all at once and some more successfully than others. I can tell you now; it all needs to work as one. Compartmentalizing may work for some but I have found that the female nature makes it difficult. For example, it’s hard to pretend on the day of a big presentation at work that our sick child at home isn’t consuming all of our thoughts. I found that when I let others in on a problem like this, especially other female bosses, we were able to find a work-around that helped the business and me. In turn I encourage the many young women I mentor to not be so hard on themselves and to ask for help. An executive or entrepreneur’s work is a big part of each day, sometimes all of it. Allow yourself to have good days and bad days and get help when you need it.
Rule 2: Be Who You Are
This is a continuation of the first point. There was a time when I didn’t even have a photo of my child on my desk at work because I feared being placed in the “mommy track.” Fortunately, it’s not the ’80s anymore and those days are gone. Mothers who hold professional jobs are more the rule than the exception. Being a working mother in a professional job is as much who you are as any other choice that you have made for your life. Your characteristics such as emotional intelligence, empathy and highly collaborative work ethic are also who you are. Resist the urge to suppress traits that can sometimes be viewed as “too soft” and build them as strengths, not weaknesses.
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