What do you see when you watch the sunrise from the sun boat? You see brilliance, you see hope and you see the majestic beginning to another day.
Turn around, you are sure to find one such sunrise story of a little girl who navigated through life to find her feet on the ground before she finally arrived at the profession of her choice. Her lipstick, the coordinated high-heels, the smart pantsuit, the carefully draped sari, the stylish laptop bag hung on her shoulders, the pile of student notebook rested on her arms, the tennis racket with the tightly tied pony tail, the stethoscope around her neck…all of these reality images clearly call out – It’s hard earned!
The change has already happened. The woman successfully secured a place at the game field – it’s now time for her to win! And you don’t win if you don’t know how to lead. A recently published report, ‘Women in the Boardroom – A Global perspective – 5thEdition, 2017’, published by Delloite Global Centre for Corporate Governance, clearly call out some insightful data. In India, only 12.4% Board seats are held by women compared with the Global average of 15%. Women in India occupy only 6.6% CEO positions and 3.2% chairperson position at the Boards. The statistics clearly call out the gap we have. Women in our society need to discover their will and skill to take the lead in their profession.
The pursuit to the top is a journey of ‘present continuous’. Here are some simple life principles that any woman who wishes to be a change maker and aspire to lead can fall back on.
Erasing the White Board
The whiteboard of her life may carry self-limiting beliefs, harsh comments from others and failures despite of her best efforts. She needs to always hold the power to erase the whiteboard that contains legacy social limiting beliefs: ‘Men are the primary source of income for a family, so a woman’s income is additive; Women- friendly policies at workplace are designed to help women have a relaxed work-life; A woman’s primary responsibility is raising children, everything else is secondary’. She needs to free herself from such social conditioning that holds her back. It is time she starts to fill the whiteboard with belief statements of her Lead Story.
Remembering that you still have the coffee in your cup
Success in any professional world is all about ‘creating value’. The technology disruptors through artificial intelligence and digital everyday life at workplace, challenge humans to advance their intellectual capability.
- Build your expertise throughout your career. Keep your coffee cup ready.
- Ask yourself ‘what’s my differentiator as a professional?’, ‘Will this extra cup of coffee take me to the extra step towards building my differentiator?’ If yes, grab the cup and continue to burn the midnight oil.
- You need to seek out jobs that challenge you to travel, put in extra hours on stretch assignments that help hone your skills and invest time to create a professional network for internal and external visibility. All these are clear readiness actions to prepare you to take on leadership roles. Just like the taste of the hot cup of coffee is yours, the taste of success through hard work will be yours too!
Fitting everything in your suitcase
Have you experienced the joy of being able to fit everything you wanted in your suitcase and the zip runs smooth? A woman’s suitcase carries her own needs, projected needs by others, her style accessories and even stuff that others do not want to carry. In pursuit of being accommodative, are you fitting in more and forgetting the ‘bare essentials’? Watch out, you do not want to reach a stage where the zipper rips of the fabric! In life, they appear as burnout, emotional outbursts, and mental depression.
“In the balancing act of your work life, the ‘two bare essentials’ are – Emotional Self-Regulation and Let Others Know Their Limits”.
Let’s talk about the first one – Emotional Self- Regulation:
Her story of life, love, career, marriage, sex, motherhood, guilt, hormonal changes, not necessarily in the same order, can be overwhelming. It is natural to feel vulnerable and most often here is where she a woman either quits or chooses to be just another player on the game field. She needs to remind herself that work for her needs to be included - lights, camera, and action at all time; if she is really passionate about rising to the top. You will need to use financial autonomy with self- regulation – earn it, save it, spend it and be in control of it. Economics drive power and surely enough the one who has the power gets the collaboration too. It is indeed all about the money, honey!
The second bare essential in your suitcase – Let Others Know Their Limits:
Find ways to let your partner, spouse, children, friends, colleagues, relatives, acquaintances and/or even robots, anyone who thinks they have an easy access to your time and emotion, you need to speak up and tell them that you are not always available. This needs tact. You don’t want to spoil the start of the exciting career journey ahead of you. Make the significant others in your life, your true travel buddies - create the fun and excitement for them too as you navigate your career.
Can your story of ‘Women of Change’ inspire the younger generation to build a better inclusive world?
Discovering the underwater world –
You will know this if you have experienced what politics at the workplace can do. The beauty lies in your ability to see politics like social adventure. Any human community working together will always have a format of distribution of power, resource and decision making process and that’s how simple politics is. Recognise how the patterns work around you. Enjoy discovering the underwater world at the workplace. Navigate your internal and external network, hold on to your professional ethics and keep focused on your goal. Invest in building your brand as a woman colleague who does not indulge in office gossips and bitchy stories. You simply do not have the time! You need to be a great colleague companion to discuss recent financial trends, the latest research in your profession and technology advancements. Always remember your aim is to get to the leadership decision table. and not become the scuba diver – victims of organization politics.
Carrying the unexpected bouquet
Women in their profession need to carry the passion like evangelists to pay it forward for more women. If you have known success in your profession, take time out to mentor other women, sponsor education for the next door underprivileged girl child and advocate for at least two more women in your organization to help them meet their career aspiration.
The five-point guidelines will work brilliantly if you let your Feminine Energy Rule. You need to sit next to the wonderful men in your lives at work or otherwise and let them enjoy your company as a competent counterpart. Use your ‘compassion’ to manage conflicts, use your ‘risk-taking ability’ to make decisions, use your ‘people skills’ to build high performing team and organization, use your childlike ‘enthusiasm’ to bring in fun and finally use your ‘ability to adapt’ to strategize and deliver lasting results. Let your life be a legacy of professional brilliance that contribute to the economic and social growth of our country. Can your story of ‘Women of Change’ inspire the younger generation to build a better inclusive world?