Advertising
Advertising

How Successful Women Shake Up and Redefine the Workplace

How Successful Women Shake Up and Redefine the Workplace

Have you felt a massive gender power shift taking place?

There is a new wave of successful women who are shaking up and redefining the workplace as we know it.

Instead of complacently letting others decide who they are and how they should work, they are finding their voices and claiming a seat at the table. In short, they are committing to pave their own way, and are doing it unapologetically.

Before I dive deeper into this topic, I want to express that this is in no way, shape or form a male bashing article, nor is it a feminist rant.

Rather, it’s a celebration of women and the progress that they’ve made.

The Barriers to the Advancement of Women in the Workplace

Successful women have definitely cracked the glass ceiling, but it is still not broken. The historical white and male culture remains prevalent in organizations.

There is a ‘think-manager-think male’ theory that identifies males and masculine traits as those perceived by men and by women, to be associated with successful leadership.[1] As a result of these ingrained gender stereotypes, people fail to see the leadership potential of women.

We cannot ignore the harsh reality that gender discrimination is still alive and well. Here are a few sad, but true facts:

  • After reaching an all-time high of 32 in 2017, the number of female Fortune 500 chiefs has slid back down to 24. That’s a one-year decline of 25%.[2]
  • A Harvard online global research study, which included over 200,000 participants, showed that 76% of people (men and women) are gender-biased and tend to think of men as better suited for careers and women as better suited as homemakers.[3]
  • Women in upper level executive, administrative and managerial occupations earn 72.3% of what men in the same position earn.[4]

Let’s call a spade a spade – business culture continues to favor the masculine.

The good news is that successful women have seen these trends as clear opportunities to shake things up. They are empowering organizations to value feminine traits within their corporate cultures, on the part of both men and women.

Hanna Rosin, an author and journalist, gave an epic Ted talk on The Rise of Women. She expressed that,[5]

“What the economy requires now is a whole different set of skills… you need to communicate openly, to be able to listen to people and operate in a workplace that is much more fluid than it used to be. And those are things that women do extremely well as we’re seeing”

More women are taking on top executive roles and there has been a shift towards a feminization of leadership. The rise of the feminine is slowly being seen as an investment strategy that works.

The future of female leadership never looked so good. It’s fair to say that it is an exciting time to be a woman.

How I Came to Embody My Feminine Power

As I’m writing this article, I am aware that it is impossible for me to not take a biased perspective. I mean, I am a woman after all, but it’s more than that.

When I was growing up, I had the honor of being surrounded by strong female “teachers”, one of whom was my mother. This woman defines true inner strength. She raised me on my own, while building a career that she loved.

Despite the challenges she faced throughout life being a single parent, she strove to be the leader of her life, and still does to this day.

She taught me how to be a compassionate, authentic, hardworking woman. More importantly, she empowered me to create success on my terms.

It’s fair to say that she is my hero.

From her teachings and my true nature of wanting to give back to others, I developed a burning passion to inspire and empower women. In gradate school, this desire grew.

Advertising

I wanted to dive deeper into the topic of women in leadership. As a result, I wrote my thesis dissertation on female leadership resilience. During this process, I had the unique opportunity of interviewing powerful women in top levels of leadership.

In our conversations together, they spoke about how they overcame hardship and achieved success. In particular, emphasis was placed on the role that resilience played in their climb.

Since then, I have dedicated my work and my life to empowering women to become addicted to success. Every day I continue to hear powerful stories of resilience, strength and grace under fire.

The rise of the feminine is here.

If you are a woman reading this, you are already successful whether you know it or not. However, many of us have only scratched the surface of our awesomeness.

If you feel like there is more for you to do, you’re right. There are unlimited possibilities for all of us. However, if we want to tackle gender inequality on a global level and create real change, we need to stop focusing on what is wrong and start focusing on what is working.

5 Ways That Successful Women Are Redefining the Workplace

So in a corporate culture that continues to create unseen barriers for the advancement of women, how do we incite change?

Here are 5 ways that successful women are redefining the workplace and shaking things up.

1. They Define Success, on Their Terms

What if success wasn’t what you thought it was? A lot of people, myself included, have fallen into the trap of defining and measuring success based on other people’s definitions.

Let’s face it… there will always be someone who tries to tell you what you should do.

What does success mean to you? For myself, it means committing to unlearn all of the stories that I’ve absorbed over the years about what it means to be a woman.

In many ways, success is a state of mind. Yes, it takes courage to say, “This isn’t my path. I’m going in a different direction.”

However, if you don’t take the time to figure out what it means to live a successful life for you, you will spend your life trying to live up to other people’s expectations of who you should be.

Being told that I should define success on my terms was some of the best career advice that I’ve ever received. I remember the moment when I realized that I had been living someone else’s dream.

It was overwhelming and liberating at the same time. In that moment, I decided that I would no longer try to force myself into roles that didn’t feel aligned with who I was.

In her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom and Wonder, Arianna Huffington says that, in order to demonstrate our achievements and worth, we attach to societal status symbols, like being uber-busy, having a fancy car, a large social media following, or a prestigious job title.

Unfortunately, when you achieve these things, oftentimes you are left feeling unfulfilled. Money and power may feel good, but they aren’t necessarily precursors to happiness. The result is a never-ending cycle of striving for more, in the name of achieving success.

However, you may never feel like you arrive anywhere. When you really think about, success feels so much more natural when your work is connected to your purpose.

The superhuman stereotype sets up a lot of women for failure in the workplace. When they can’t or choose to not “have it all” they assume that they aren’t successful.

Sheryl Sandberg said it best:

Advertising

“Trying to do it all and expecting that it can all be done exactly right is a recipe for disaster. Perfection is the enemy.”

Successful women refuse to fall prey to this perfectionistic mindset of living and working.

If they make the mistake once, they don’t do it again. Instead of worrying so much about what everybody else expects of them, they focus on what they want and then dive in.

It comes down to deciding what makes you happy in your career and then unapologetically asking for what you need. Like Nike says, “Just do it.”

2. They Speak Up

Let’s face it… uncomfortable conversations aren’t necessarily enjoyable. Some things are hard to say, especially if you are a woman in business.

One of the reasons why women don’t speak up is that, when they do, they expect to get shunned. This is due, in part, because society has largely ignored what women have to say.

Unfortunately, this has created a culture of silence, where a large percentage of women have stopped taking interest in speaking up at work for fear that they won’t be seen, heard or taken seriously.

A new study by Dr. Elizabeth McClean at the University of Arizona shows that while men benefit from speaking their minds at work, women seldom receive the same type of peer recognition for doing the same.[6]

Over the last few decades, there has been a movement fuelled by courageous women who have unapologetically claimed their seats at the table. Let me be clear. Successful women don’t magically wake up one day and find their voice.

Even the most powerful of women find themselves afraid to speak up, for fear that they will be perceived as too aggressive or that their ideas won’t be recognized as credible.

How do these success-minded women overcome this?

They practice finding their voice and flexing their confidence, through trial and error. I believe that the only way to move through fear is to become friends with it. Successful women put themselves out there and fake it until they feel it.

The confidence in which they communicate serves them well in the workplace when it comes to developing credibility, influencing people and negotiating whatever it is that they want.

Powerhouse women refuse to stay silent, no matter how hard others try to silence them. In their eyes, beyond “loud” is a compliment.

If you don’t ask for what you want, how do you expect to ever receive it? Not everything that comes out of your mouth has to be perfect. All that matters is that you say something.

3. They Persevere, Despite the Odds

The business world can be a highly unpredictable and volatile terrain for anyone to navigate, especially for a woman. A lot of people want success, but not everyone is willing to accept the challenges that come with it.

Anything worth pursuing in life requires persistence. There comes a time in all of our lives when we get knocked down. That’s a part of this wild ride that we call life.

In reality, success is as much about your determination and persistence, despite the odds stacked against you, as it is about your talent. For people who adopt this mindset, success is only a matter of time.

Getting ahead in the workplace isn’t the result of luck. Rather, it’s a willingness to embrace setbacks and use them to your advantage.

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if you’re not failing, you’re probably staying stuck in one place. You’ve got to be willing to falter and learn from your mistakes.

Advertising

Every successful woman who has come out on top has persevered during the most difficult of times and triumphed over adversity. When they fall, they dust themselves off, get back up and push forward.

Successful women look at challenges and give them a wink because their inner drive transcends any setback.

As part of a radio panel discussion called Women in Leadership: Resilience through Change, career columnist Jill McGillen observed that women in leadership are not necessarily concerned about “survival of the fittest” but more about “survival of the flexible.[7]

True persistence is about being flexibility. Successful women don’t just survive, they thrive. Instead of banging their heads against the wall and repeating the same mistake over and over again, they experiment with different ways of approaching an issue.

By adopting this flexible mindset, successful women eventually find solutions to their problems in a quick and timely manner.

4. They Step Outside Their Comfort Zone

Comfort is the result of familiarity. Doing what you know feels safe and easy, but nothing every grows in a comfort zone. If you want to be successful in life, you have to be willing to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The problem is that, by nature, our brains are wired for survival. The moment at which we experience a threat, our response is to run for safety.

Think about the last time that you took a big risk (that might have even scared you), but that you still acted upon, in spite of your fear.

You may not realize it, but stepping outside your comfort zone actually feels liberating once you do it. It’s getting to the point where you actually allow yourself to dive into the unknown.

Success isn’t a smooth ride. Anyone who tells you that is fooling you and themselves at the same time. If you have extraordinary aspirations for your life, you’ve got to be willing to go above and beyond and expand your zone of comfort.

More importantly, you have to be okay with not necessarily knowing the outcome. Successful women feel the fear and do it anyways. Successful women thrive on discomfort, so much so that they lean into it with excitement.

I guarantee you… ask any woman who has risen to the top of her industry how she feels about risks and she will tell you that it’s a part of her everyday life at work.

More importantly, successful women didn’t get to where they are all on their own. They actively surrounded themselves with people who challenged and supported them in their rising, whether that was colleagues, friends, mentors or partners.

By taking chances, successful women keep themselves on a track of never-ending growth, continually creating more opportunities for themselves. As a result, a ripple effect is created.

When women do what makes them feel uncomfortable, they inspire other women to do the same. As Brene Brown once said,

“It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong.”

This is the only way home to yourself. When you lean into what make you feel small, you actually set the stage for a brave revolution, one that will transform the way that you live, lead and show up in the world.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

5. They Say “No” More

People love to celebrate the word, “yes.” Until recently, it has been considered to be the gold standard for living a successful life.

However, there is an assumption that the word “no” gets a bad reputation. People don’t realize that it is a superpower. When you say, “no” it’s a way of saying, “This is who I am. Take it or leave it.” In the workplace, women struggle with this.

Advertising

Have you ever felt pressured to say yes to something, when every bone in your body didn’t want to do it?

A lot of women worry about saying the word “no” because they don’t want to let people down or think less of them. In the corporate world, these people-pleasing ways tend to get women into trouble.

There is an expectation that women will say yes to everything, even when they are stretched and burned out. Studies show that women are held to a “higher ethical standard” than their male counterparts.[8]

Talk about pressure…

Once up on a time, I was a colossal people-pleaser. Like many young girls, I was taught to be supportive and helpful. I assumed that this is how people respect you in the workplace.

I adopted this mindset and convinced myself that this is how I was going to climb the ranks. Saying yes to anything and everything got me ahead for a while. However, eventually it turned against me and I crashed hard.

I remember the first time I said “no” to something or someone. It seems like a simple thing to do, but it took an insane amount of courage for me to even get those words out of my mouth.

That being said, it was the most liberating feeing because it meant that I was making myself and my needs a priority.

This is what successful women do best. The art of saying no is their favorite word. It allows them to stay in alignment with their core values and avoid projects that veer them off track.

By staying true to who they are, not only do they gain more respect in the workplace, but it also ensures that they don’t get overwhelmed and overworked.

Final Thoughts

Successful women are shaking things up and redefining what is possible. Their progress deserves an applause, followed by a happy dance, but there is still so much work to be done.

As a collective, we have an opportunity to reshape and redefine the workplace forever, so that leadership no longer has to be defined based on gender.

Now is the time to break gender expectations and redefine the modern workplace as an environment where people support one another’s strengths instead of tear each other down.

By doing so, we give each other the space to lean into our power and create success, on our terms. Call me a dreamer, but I believe that it’s possible.

In the words of Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The only way to create change in this world is to shake the very foundation of gender norms. Together, we grow and rise, and that is what creates a better future for all of us.

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience What Motivates You to Succeed in Life? 5 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Adversity 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Simple Ways to Be Happy with Yourself Every Day

Trending in Smartcut

1 Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead 2 How to Change Careers When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Steps to Achieve Career Success on Your Own Terms 4 The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever) 5 How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

Advertising

2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

Advertising

Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

Advertising

This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

Advertising

“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next