I have the pleasure of working with impressive women (and men). Indulge me please because for the moment I just want to write about some of the women.  These are women who hold significant leadership positions in successful global companies.

These women are accountable for multimillion dollar decisions; respected by their leadership team comprising usually of mostly educated middle aged men. These women are capable leaders; assimilate complex information, make difficult decisions, think strategically – act operationally, delegate well and are prepared to demonstrate managerial courage. Ironically a number of these smart women come to this successful place in their careers with almost negligible public profile. They have little appreciation for their worth outside their incumbent employer. They usually have been promoted from within.

And the day comes when these women choose to test their employability.  They choose to apply for jobs and explore their professional worth in the competitive market. The gap between a smart woman’s self confidence in securing their ideal job, and their labour market worth, is often significantly large… Well at least to start with.

The unhelpful pattern about how these women initially think and feel quickly becomes apparent.  The greatest barrier for their career progression comes from the enemy within. At first, they mightfeel overwhelmed by the vigorous nature of recruitment practices, the expectations of needing a vibrant public profile, on-line and personal presence, and the seemingly endless self-promoting tasks needed to articulate their notable achievements.

Once they begin networking and discussing their achievements, their confidence grows exponentially. Quite rapidly they get recognition of their market worth from their network, industry leaders, potential employers, and search firms.

They get approached on LinkedIn. Projects they led, complexities they managed, costs that needed tight controls, and negotiations creating mutually satisfying outcome from conflicting tensions between global mandates, industrial agreements and local practices all represent valuable currency.

Enduring successes validates that the personal and commercial legacies leaders leave organisations, and their followers, is often remarkable.  In working to expand a leader’s readiness to reach their potential in the changing world of work, there are a number of useful tips. Here are four key tips in reframing the career strategy of smart women who self sabotage.

  1. Get The Facts… Start documenting examples of when you created successful outcomes in your recent past. Get your device-of-choice and type or write your story as if you are making a journal entry or telling a peer. a)what was a project or brief, b) how and what did you do to achieve or lead this outcome, and c) what was the outcome/ benefit to the organisation, profitability, or client? Incorporate factual information dollars, percentages, and feedback. Generate your evidence.  Build your self confidence. Create multiple flagship outcomes; start with your most significant, most enjoyable, most complex.
  2. Listen To Your Inner Voice… Have you given yourself unconditional support and acknowledgement for who you are?  For all of you.  Do you know what you want, what you value? Typically you juggle multiple roles; the professional, the daughter, the mother, the lover, the sister, the auntie etc. It’s hard enough to be and feel positive every day much less spend time and energy getting ready for tomorrow. How often and effectively to you silence your busyness, take time to reflect and be mindful of the imperfect and significant person that you are? Increase the volume on the kind and supportive voice, turned down the volume on the negative and unhelpful voice.
  3. Ask for What You Want (without explaining or apologising)…  To what degree is your identity and aspirations underpinned by your modesty,  expectations from self, family or friends? The opportunity to think big, in fact to think far bigger than you ever have, is now. And you will be dancing in the changing world of work with some others, largely experienced men with high levels of self-esteem, big aspirations and ambitious identity, who will be single-mindedly discussing what they want with decision makers. What is your identity and public profile in this changing world of work, and who do you want to dance with?
  4. Expand Your Network.. Don’t just think about it. To what degree, in the course of your everyday life do you meet with decision makers eg your network, industry leaders, potential employers, and search firms? Who knows you exist? What extended relationships, beyond the essential operational needs, do you have with old bosses, clients, customers, suppliers, or third party service providers? What can you do, who can you meet to exchange a common interest, a discussion to listen and share matters of functional, or industry relevance  just because you are genuinely interested in the person, the subject matter and/or the industry? Take personal responsibility to create opportunities and meet contacts, start with referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites. Diarise to make one more coffee meeting than you did last month.

Because you can. Choose to do. Start now. 

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