Becoming your best self to grow your careerDec 04, 2021
It's time women took up more positions in power in order to level out the playing field
Women continue to be under-represented in leadership positions across the globe, although some countries are faring a lot better than others. This gives me some hope.
For the rest of us however there are still battles to be won, particularly when it comes to overcoming unconscious gender biases and the societal and systemic hurdles women face in most countries.
While there are many ways we can start, and continue, to make the changes necessary for a level playing field, one of the best ways is to have more women in positions where they can make a difference. It’s time for us, ladies, to take control of our own career progression.
So how do we do this?
First of all, women do progress in their careers, despite all that’s stacked against us. Here are two approaches I took that have allowed me to land a senior role that I absolutely love. And the good news is, even if I hadn’t been promoted, these two things have helped me become a better version of me anyway.
What do you believe?
We all have beliefs; some that are empowering and others that are limiting. Limiting beliefs, by definition, limit us from reaching our full potential. The trick is to identify our limiting beliefs, then work to change them. Simple, right? OK, I’ll admit, it may be “simple”, but it’s just not that easy. But it is doable.
For example, I used to fear being judged, so I wouldn’t speak up, even when I had something to say. When I looked at that belief, it stemmed from an underlying conviction that other people’s opinions of me mattered more than my own. I admit it’s taken me most of my life to work through that one, and I wish I’d had the knowledge and understanding of how to work through limiting beliefs that I do now a very long time ago.
So I want you to write these questions down, and start to think about some answers.
What is it that you are afraid of? Where do you doubt yourself?
What are you uncertain of when it comes to your leadership skills or your ability to get a role where you can make a difference?
Once you’ve got some answers, the next step is to identify what the belief is that you are carrying that leads to that fear, doubt or uncertainty.
There are a number of other things I dive into here when I’m working with my clients, but for this I want you to ask yourself what is the new belief you would like to use to replace this old one that is not serving you, and then, form that as a question.
For example, I chose to replace the limiting belief that other people’s opinions were worth more than mine with the belief that: I value my own opinion and those of people who care for me – other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.Turning this into a question became: How many ways can I show that I honour my own opinion rather than those that don’t know me?
This question helps you see things you would not ordinarily have been paying attention to. I hope you can feel how empowering that is.
As you bust through some of these limiting beliefs, you naturally show up and speak up more at work. Becoming visible at work was key to helping me get promoted. You do want to make sure you are strategic about this though, so spend some time documenting where you are looking to go with your career. Ask what your intentions are? This will help to make it clear when and to whom you choose to show up and, just as relevant, when and to whom to say no.
Here are a few ways you can build on this.
Look for opportunities – particularly in areas that interest you or cater to your strengths. For example, join a network that advocates something you’re passionate about.
Say yes – if you are asked to do something that will put you in front of other people, particularly the right people, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone, or you’re not entirely sure how to do it – say yes. You can learn how to do it, work on those limiting beliefs, and show up. Caution: saying yes to helping out with yet another morning tea is NOT serving you (pun intended).
Build relationships. Work on your emotional intelligence. Show empathy and create genuine connection with people.
Look at the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) angle – specifically from their perspective. Send articles, job adverts, say thanks or congratulations to people of influence, and indeed, people in general.
Busting limiting beliefs and showing up at work led me to a job I love and it can get you there too, but you need to take action. So commit yourself to doing one thing today that will move you forwards.
This article was originally published on Apolitical and was one of the finalists in Apolitical’s 2020 women in government writing competition.
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