The most important career capital you have isn’t your technical skills or academic pedigree. It’s not your high-flying title. It’s not even your relationships… It’s your reputation. In every job, people will wonder if you have what it takes to get things done and if you can deal with a wide range of people. They’ll be more than curious if you can handle crises and adversity. My favorite mentor has been known to caution, “Your reputation gets to the next place before you do….What will it be?”
Have you ever been tempted to ignore your agenda in order to keep harmony? Maybe you behaved cooperatively to avoid unwanted attention or being the dissenter on a matter. Perhaps you dodged using your voice because the potential damage to a relationship was just too great. Whether you engage in these slights to yourself a little bit or a lot, you have pleaser tendencies. And I can assure you, those default behaviors aren’t endearing you to others the way you may think they are.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and felt ignored or utterly unimportant? Perhaps you offered up an idea that someone else seized upon. Maybe you inserted yourself into the conversation but no one gave you their eye contact or their attention. Whether you’re the youngest in the room or the one from a department no one respects (or you’re just not getting your due for unknown reasons), you can lean on these four strategies to re-assert yourself.
What’s so wrong with an MBA? Over the recent years, article after article has explained why the degree is a waste of money and time. The thinking goes, networking with your friends and reading a few books is an easy substitute. What’s more, the article authors note that if you do get your degree, you end up in debt up to your eyeballs and without much more value than when you started.
Even so, for those who aspire to lead, the job outlook for business school graduates has improved, with more companies planning to hire recent MBA and master-level business graduates. And for women in particular, there are some converging competencies that we can learn in the B-school environment that train us uniquely to lead:
Three months into my speaking career, I was elated to secure a speaking gig at a top conference for professional women. I would be addressing my largest audience to date (350 people) and presenting on a topic I’m especially passionate about: how women can negotiate confidently and more often.
In short, I was terrified!
Thankfully I survived the talk. You can imagine my nerves a few weeks after the presentation when the organizers sent me summarized feedback: the presentation had ranked in the top 5 sessions of the entire conference! As I hungrily read the feedback for more details—and because I’m admittedly ‘Type A’—I noticed one theme under opportunities for improvement: that I should be less self-promotional.
Nothing can fluster even the most unflappable professional like being asked a question to which they don’t know the answer. Appearing incompetent or uninformed is one thing, but what makes this scenario even worse is when you’re asked the ‘impossible question’ in a group setting. Maybe it’s a group you know well—or maybe it’s a group you’re building early credibility with and hoping to impress. You’re unsure of the details, you may feel a bit embarrassed, and you’re not sure how to word a response.
For most of us, working on projects and deliverables by ourselves is becoming increasingly scarce. We are constantly joining existing teams, forming new ones or otherwise meeting in groups. In fact, studies of managers and knowledge workers reveal that they spend between 25%-80% of their time in meetings, suggesting that “teamwork” is a primary vehicle for the modern business today. And, meeting time has only increased since 2008.
If you ask someone to describe a person with a compelling leadership brand, they will often struggle initially to explain exactly why that person is so effective. Maybe this is because everything that we do, say, and embody at work creates the brand for which we become known. For some, this is just too heady a realization to bear… People in this camp may feel powerless about their reputation – thinking, “Others are going to make their minds up about me. I can’t control their views.”
Enter your email address below to subscribe to our Next Gen Women blog.