No matter how you look at it, women in a corporate environment are still competing in a man’s world. Great strides have been made to give women equal rights and equal opportunities, but if you look around you, it is evident that women have not yet taken their rightful place alongside men in the boardroom. Chances are men outnumber women by at least a 10:1 ratio in any high ranking job and that’s why it is so important for women to lose the mindset that they need to compete like a man.
Creating an Identity of Strength
Women should work towards creating an identity that is unique to them as a woman, strong and knowledgeable yet subtly so. There is no reason to go out of your way to ‘prove’ your worthiness. This is something you can develop with a statement that is uniquely ‘you.’ From fashion to attitude, you can go farther by being a strong women who is secure in her identity than you can emulating men to ‘prove’ your strength.
Much of it is about creating a look that smacks success. For example, the jewelry you wear says much about who you are as a person. There is no reason to flaunt a Rolex watch when you can pick up high quality pieces of jewelry from estate sales like those curated by kavador.com. Many are elegant pieces that are obviously high-end but you aren’t spending an arm and a leg to prove a point. Act and dress like a woman with an undercurrent of strength but overtones that are obviously feminine.
Corporate Psychologists Weigh in on the Subject
According to many industrial (corporate) psychologists, the mistake many female directors make is in trying to take on the persona of a male leader in a woman’s body. For years, women gaining rank in a corporate environment would show up at the office or for a meeting with the board of directors in a three-piece pant suit. Looking back, it is almost laughable that women thought the best way to compete was to take on a more masculine persona.
Women now show up at directors’ meetings dressed in stiletto heels and a soft, feminine dress but it is her interior strength that is reflected outwards. You are going for a look that is strong and confident, yet chic and feminine.
Avoid the Crash and Burn Pitfall
Another way in which women have sought to prove themselves is by working abnormally long hours. In their effort to climb the corporate ladder they would burn the candle at both ends. Unfortunately, this leads to that very same crash and burn crisis that their male counterparts have been suffering through for years. As the old saying goes, work smarter not harder. In a position of leadership, it is well within your scope to set up a team that can accomplish jointly what it might take you months to do on your own.
Besides being able to get jobs done faster by a combined effort, building an efficient team is one sure sign of a true leader. Trying to compete in a man’s world? Delegate responsibility to show you aren’t afraid of ‘sharing the glory.’ A leader with true strength is not afraid of letting others take some of the credit. In other words, they are not threatened by others with talent so they learn to delegate responsibilities.
Learn to Bring out the Best in Your Employees
This leads to another area of concern for women in a corporate environment – how to bring out the best in those left in their charge. There is no need to be overbearing to assert your authority. As a man, would you do this? Probably not. While there are some men who feel the need to flaunt their position of power, truly effective leaders are secure in just who they are and have an air of confidence. This is one example which can be learned from men. Exude confidence, don’t bark orders.
Women are still not given the credibility they deserve in a corporate environment and although society has come a long way, like in the old Virginia Slims commercial, women still have much farther to go. Not only do they need to reprogram their own mindset but they must work towards getting others to see them for whom they are. Women in a corporate environment should lead with a strength that comes from a strong conviction of who she is. Once you are confident in your own abilities, it’s a short step to get others to view you in the same way. However, remember you don’t need to compete on a man’s level. Be efficient, be yourself and you will be a success. Yes, it is a man’s world but you’ve got your foot in the door so make the most of it simply by being you – a woman.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan