When I read recently that Michelle Obama feels a fraud and imposter and feels she shouldn’t be taken seriously, I wondered where that left the rest of us. She is one of the most admired and inspirational women in modern times. She drew audiences of 6000+ people as she promoted around the world her book “Becoming”. Yet in spite of her constantly feeling that way on the inside she presents as an empowered and empowering woman on the outside.
I realised how big an issue this is for us as women. Most of us have had that feeling, or carry it around with us as unnecessary baggage. We doubt ourselves often even when we are successful and accomplished at what we do. So we don’t seize opportunities that would enhance and accelerate our careers.
We, together, can break through this lack of confidence and self-belief, learn how to self-promote in a way that fits your values, find your voice and negotiate the future career you want. These are absolute essentials we need as women to accelerate our careers and become empowered and empowering leaders.
I know from talking with many women over many years that much of what I am going to say here is very difficult for them. Some are quite indignant that they have to engage in what they believe is a game. In many ways it is, but as someone else has said, we have to play the game to change the game.Karen Mitchell from Kalmor Consulting, who consults to women about career success, says that many of us as women make the wrong assumption in believing that if we work really hard we will be successful. Rather, she said, the key to success for the corporate woman is knowing the rules of the game. She said that we may not like it, and we don’t have to agree with it, but we need to work out how to play the game without losing our souls. Here are some ideas I’ve put together. It’s not a comprehensive or inclusive list, but rather some ideas and strategies that I, and other women, have found helpful. Wherever you are on the ladder of success, there is something here for you.Read More
It was one of Australia’s leading female CEOs, Gillian Frank, who once said that women can have it all, but not all at once. Many of us have learned that the hard way. We have tried to keep all the balls in the air and as a result we failed to be who we truly wanted to be. There are three ways we can achieve that and still remain true to who we are and what we stand for. We discover our Why. We set goals around it. We build a network of support that helps us achieve it because there is no way we can go it alone.Read More
I recently re-visited Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In : Women, Work and the Will To Lead”. I had 3 women approach me for mentoring in the one week. I remembered she has some excellent advice on Mentoring. While this is normal part of my work, it is always helpful to step back now and again and reflect on what I am doing as a mentor and why I am doing it.
There was one part of her Chapter 5 on “Are You My Mentor?” that really got me thinking about my initial conversations with these 3 new mentees. She believes that many women coming for mentoring want a dependency relationship with their mentor which she says is not at all helpful for women. So what she said provoked me to think about how I wanted to engage with my 3 new mentees so that the relationship was an empowering one for them. I share my 7 insights here with my readers.Read More
One of the on-going issues I find in my mentoring work with women is their wish to be the assertive woman leader, yet at the same time their fear to be so. There is always that sense that they feel trapped – damned if they do, doomed if they don’t. If they be assertive, they are seen to be untrue to their femininity; they are seen to be uncaring. They are regarded as being very forthright, in a negative sense. When men are forthright they are seen as ambitious in a positive sense. Woman are also caricatured by comments like: “She wears the pants” or worse “She’s got balls.” She’s like the men, in other words. It is a damning account.
On the other hand, if they don’t be assertive, their careers are doomed for they become invisible in their organisations and professional and industry sectors. Their potential and talent goes unrecognised. They can feel used. As one woman said to me: “Maree, I’m not walked over like a doormat, I’m wall-to-wall carpet.”Read More
International Women’s Day 2016 is a good day to decide to face head on the challenge you face as a woman in integrating your personal and professional life. I have shared here 15 actions for you to consider in making that happen. Most importantly, don’t give up when the going gets tough. Too many women find the struggle of balancing the competing demands of their work and family too stressful and give up on their work. When this happens make it “Our” problem – yours as a couple, not just yours as a mother or professional woman. Talk it through with your partner. Talk with your mentor or coach. Be proactive first, before being reactive. Get clear what the issues are. Ask yourself: what do I really want to happen here? Think laterally: how could I make that happen in this situation? Or,what’s the closest I can get to what I want in this situation?Read More