How Women Can Excel in 2018

By Olivia Berkman

By zeroing-in on strengths, becoming more strategic networkers, and embracing challenges, women can show their peers and themselves that they’re ready for growth in 2018.

Women face unique challenges in the workplace that can often stand in the way of career growth. Those challenges are both external and internal, whether it’s being left out of informal networks or feeling pressure to constantly self-improve.

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level this year, there are three key areas that women in particular should focus on.

Network Better

Unfortunately, many women don’t know about the opportunities available to them in the first place. Informal networks among colleagues can be a great way to learn about job openings or new opportunities at your company, but women are often excluded from these groups.

It’s an issue of visibility, explained Olu Fajemirokun Beck, CEO of Wholesome Sweeteners Inc. to an audience of women at the 2018 ACG WOL Summit.

“What I’ve found most helpful for women is actually just knowing that the opportunity is there. In a lot of organizations it’s done through relationships. Somebody plays golf with somebody and there’s a role opening up. Making sure that somehow you tap into or get line of sight to whatever that informal network is where opportunities get discussed is key.”

One of the best ways for women to get more insight to the inner workings of the organization is to find a mentor. Make sure that you’ve made your career goals known and, if you’re looking for a change, encourage your mentor to tell you if they hear of anything. They can even put your name forward or let you know the right time to put your name forward. Performance discussions are also a good time to ask about openings at the company.

Focus on Your Strengths

Fajemirokun Beck says, “Once you know what’s out there, then you’ve got a personal decision – do I want to put my hand up or not and I think a number of speakers throughout the day have said a lot of women pull themselves out of the running before they’ve even tried  – thinking, I can’t do this I can’t do that. Don’t self-select out. Even if you don’t know everything about the role, just tell yourself ‘I’ll figure it out. I’ll find a mentor, I’ll find support, whatever it is ill figure it out.’”

Once you know the opportunities available, it’s up to you to put yourself forward. Don’t make the mistake of taking yourself out of the running. Too often, self-doubt and concerns around the ability to have success in a new role prevents women from putting themselves forward for an opportunity.

Men in the workplace are more likely to overstate their strengths, while women tend to downplay their abilities, which could account for the reason men are promoted at higher rates than women. According to the New York Times, women are 15 percent less likely to get promoted than men, in part because men get promoted for “potential,” while women get promoted for performance.

While recognizing faults and self-improvement are important, it can be powerful for women to zero-in on their unique talents. Flywheel Sports CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan and ACG WOL Summit keynote encouraged the audience play a specialist game by focusing on your core competencies and passions.

“Focus on what is the one thing that you can be the best at, because I believe the stronger your foundation, the bolder you will be. Think about what is your personal specialist game, in terms of what you do every day and how you line that up with places that your career takes you.”

Don’t Shy Away From Challenges

Make failure your fuel. Robb O’Hagan told the audience, “Break yourself to make yourself. What I mean by that, take on an assignment that’s in an area that is way out of your comfort zone.”

She explained, “If you’re like me, you’ve been fired a bunch of times. Disruption and discomfort happens whether you like it or not. When are those moments in your career when you know you’re comfortable, we’ve all been there. You’re like, I really want to progress, but hey, this is pretty good, I know what I’m doing. Those are the moments when you have to really get uncomfortable and break yourself down.”

It’s also important that women push themselves to have uncomfortable, challenging discussions, no matter how much they’d prefer to avoid them. Amy Brodsky, Founder and CEO of SkyPartners, a performance coaching, facilitation and advisory firm, and panelist at the event, reminded the audience that the ability to navigate and have tough conversations is a skill that companies need in their employees. She advised the audience, “Think about a tough conversation you’re not having right now and figure out how to have it.”


Provided by FEI News



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