There are so many phenomenal women whose lives crisscross with my own. On this special INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, I would like to share with you these 5 Skills Women Leaders Must Hone To Crush Their Careers from my good friend Dee Ann Turner.
Ex-Chick-fil-A leader: International Women’s Day — 5 skills female leaders must hone to crush their careers
“You’re young, and you’re female. Now get over it and win them over with your competency.” These words, coming from one of my early leaders, were not only surprising but they were also startling. However, it was the single greatest piece of career advice I have ever been given.
Three decades ago, the business world was a very different place for women. It was long before an open conversation about the treatment of women in the corporate world existed but he recognized that it was a struggle to be a young female leader.
His advice helped me understand that I needed to focus on only what I could control and let go of what I could not control.
Eventually, I would get older, and that would take care of my age issue. However, being a woman in a man’s world would require much more of me, and the skills needed to navigate that rocky terrain would have to grow exponentially.
As the first female officer at my company, I was able to break down barriers and redefine possibilities in business culture and performance, but it wasn’t an easy road.
My perspectives were often different, and it was challenging to find the right way to offer my point of view. I was continually trying to find the balance between the perception of being too meek and too aggressive.
The advice to lead from competency was helpful, but competency is not enough when you are pioneering a change in mindset and culture. It takes much more than sharp technical expertise for anyone to influence and make an impact.
Over the years, I benefited from counselors, coaches, and friends who are women. But because I lacked a female guide early in my career, it was important to me as my career grew to help other women navigate their paths. If I were coaching a younger me or women today, here are the top skills I’d focus on to have the impact you desire:
As important as it is to look for the right opportunity to communicate an idea or a response, it is just as essential to have the courage to step up when the opportunity presents itself. Influential people are willing to risk popularity to gain respect. It is impossible to move forward in a career without taking risks.
- Clarity of Message.
If you have a point of view on an issue, then craft a clear message and be prepared to communicate it. A consistent and clear message makes it easy for others to understand your perspective, and they become willing to collaborate around what is clearly articulated. Don’t forget to use Stephen Covey’s fifth habit: “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
Know what you are for far more than what you are against. It’s easy to say “no,” but look for ways to say “yes.” Don’t bend on your values, but be flexible in your methods. There is usually more than one way to do something, so don’t be afraid to consider a different way to solve a problem or decide. However, don’t waiver in your deeply held purpose and beliefs. If you do, others will not believe you to be authentic and credible.
It is well known that people get things done when they work well with others. Find common ground and build from there to win-win solutions. Listen for understanding when others present their ideas. Find something to buy into and look for ways to present your ideas to contribute to the solution. The best diversity on a team occurs when people from different perspectives collaborate and influence others.
Part of the reason my boss gave me that early feedback at the start of my career is that I lacked confidence. Earning the respect of others begins with having confidence in our own skills, abilities, and experiences. A balance of confidence and humility creates a combination that often easily earns the respect of others.
Perhaps you are where I was, and you are early in your career trying to crack the code to gain more influence in an environment where your difference is notable. Maybe you are mid-career and unsure why you have stalled in your career progression. Whatever the case, pause to consider your own development in these critical capacities needed to be influential.
It was not easy and took a lot of growth, but I eventually moved forward and charted my course by focusing on what I could control. I learned that these five skills could get me where I wanted to go much faster and influence others who may have unconscious bias.
I guarantee you’ll crush your career when you put them into practice.
Article from Fox Business
Dee Ann Turner is a 35-year veteran in identifying, selecting and growing talent. The in-demand speaker, author, executive coach, and consultant was the first female officer at Chick-fil-A, for whom she served as Vice President of Talent and later, Vice President of Sustainability. She is the author of three bestselling books. Her latest is, “Crush Your Career” (Baker Books, March 2, 2021).