Demonstrate Your Worth
Today I’m going on a rant. The focus is why I believe women must demonstrate their worth in the workplace and is a topic that I am ultra-passionate about. Let me explain.
Results, results, results
All too often women in the workplace believe their results will speak for themselves, i.e. their worth to the business is exactly matched to their results. I see this belief and behaviour repeated again and again by clients I work with. It’s something inherent in women. They believe (as I once did) that the route to a successful and fulfilling career is through working harder and putting in longer and longer hours. Surely by saying yes to my boss’s demands and key stakeholder requirements, others will see how good I am?
Whilst a focus on delivery is absolutely necessary, it will ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in work. You are not on your own if you feel as though you are not truly valued in the workplace. Many women have lost their mojo and lost their belief in themselves. And what do they typically do to overcome these feelings? Work harder…
Do you ever wake up and think:
- Is this it? Is it worth the effort?
- What am I doing?
- Have I really got to go through the same old, same old, again?
Do you ever feel:
- Knackered because of yet another sleepless or disrupted night
- Dread in the stomach at the thought of going into the office
- As though you are that mood hoover, especially at home?
I know I did. I finally woke up one day and decided that enough was enough. And it was a turning point for me. I’m not saying I have the perfect life by any means. But I know in my heart that today I truly love the work I do every day.
Masculine v Feminine Power
Over the past few years I’ve been increasingly drawn to the differences in the way men and women lead and communicate in the workplace. There is an increasing recognition that there’s a feminine and masculine power base that are very different. And my belief is that women are operating through a masculine power lens (because that’s how must organisations run). As a result, they feel a great deal of conflict and inner turmoil.
Let me explain more.
The business world is constructed about principles such as results, delivery, competition, analysis, logic, force, predictability (planning and systems). These principles have served industry extremely well particularly over the past 100 years. Yet they are poles apart from the true essence of how women see and want to participate in the world.
In my experience, women are drawn to create meaning in their work, to have a purpose and to ensure they are contributing to the world or to a bigger picture. Women seek work that enables them to truly make a difference. So many women have an inner calling, an inner sense that there is more than just the numbers, more than the short termism so many companies and organisations are driven by.
Women seek connection, collaboration, creativity, self-expression and meaning. They can see a bigger picture, an ability to spot the opportunities and the possibilities to play a bigger game. And they see this beyond themselves. They want to create partnerships and form connections with others so that all can participate and feel connected to something bigger.
And here’s the pull, women feel this in their heart and in their soul, they know they have a lot more to contribute to the world. But, their day to day existence is about delivering the now. It’s about restructuring, it’s about performance goals, it’s about succession planning, it’s about getting the numbers. There’s little talk about legacy, contribution, purpose and creativity. There’s a vacuum out there for so many women and they don’t know what to do.
Demonstrate Your Worth
The answer right now is to create balance. Balancing both the masculine powers that drive most organisations with the feminine desire for creative change. At its core, it requires courage. And I believe there are two parallel things female leaders must do:
- Continue to deliver the results. This includes focusing on and knowing the numbers and becoming a technical expert in our field. We have to be confident in our knowledge and our skill base. That will enable the doors to be opened and will gain us the respect from our peers.
- Trust in our inner calling. Develop our individual, authentic, intuitive feminine power. We must listen to our instinct. We must be true to ourselves. Start connecting with what you are feeling and sensing inside. We must identify and get clear on our gifts and our calling. We must navigate a way to role model our feminine leadership. We must seek out those collaborations, build those networks and deepen our listening and our creativity. We must focus on the legacies and what we want to be known for – whether that’s our unique purpose or that of the organisations we are proud to work for.
This is such an exciting time to be a female leader. Turn your frustration into excitement. Start thinking that now is your time to be bold, to be courageous, to ‘lean in’ as Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook wrote so brilliantly about.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting. Don’t keep saying yes to delivering more now just so can ‘prove’ your worth. You are so much more than that. It’s your time. Be brave. In the words of Susan Jeffers: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Want to take it a step further? Here’s your assignment:
- Brainstorm what contribution you would love to make to your career, your community or to your world. It can be as broad and vague as you like. This is not about getting it right. It’s about getting it out of your head and onto paper.
- Notice the beliefs and inner mind-set talk that maybe holding you back when you start to right. What don’t you believe to be true? What are your biggest concerns? Write these down too.
- Finally, start thinking in small steps. What one thing could you start to differently? Or how could you shift and focus your thinking today about what’s possible for you tomorrow? Write down that one thing.
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