strategy

The secret to getting noticed for all the right reasons for executive women

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I was not rescued by a Prince. I was the adminstrator of my own rescue
— Elizabeth Gilbert

A funny thing happened to me on a webinar the other day.  I was in the middle of introducing the Gold Standard of Executive Branded - proactive, intentional, future focused and strategic when someone asked me a question "Isn't it disingenuous to do this? Surely if we're doing great work people will notice us?" 

My heart stopped.  It was such a great question.

I then took a deep breath and thought deeply before I responded, because I knew exactly where she was coming from.

Let me explain.

My new book From Invisible to Invincible - a self-promotion handbook for executive women (advance orders available here) was originally going to be called Noticed: For all the right reasons. 

Oh, how I loved that title. It was punchy. It was going to have a sealed section with all the wrong reasons (and no, not those sort of wrong reasons). This book was about being noticed by the right audience, at the right time, in the right place with the right key messages in the right currency.

But when I reflected on the issues that many women face: a lack of agency or a tendency to rely more on waiting to be noticed than creating the notice, I simply could not go to print with that title. It would convey the wrong message and keep us stuck once again playing small.

THE SECRET

The secret to creating a career that really counts is that success comes soonest to those who create it themselves - deliberately, proactively, strategically and in a future focused manner.  Not to those who wait around for it to happen to them or for someone to hand it to them.

The socialisation of young women and girls is comes from fairy stories and romance novels where the female protagonist waits to be rescued. Even if we didn't consciously buy into that narrative, it was all around us - television, advertising, magazine articles, our mothers, grans, aunties, female cousins, babysitters or childcare workers who reared us with those same stereotypes in mind. 

After all -

  • Men sweat, while women glow

  • Men go on quests and adventures, while women are required to stay at home waiting and keeping the hearth fires warm

Our history is flooded with images of women sitting passively and looking amazing, without a hair out of place as though as though we didn't break a sweat, Mona Lisa style, while imagery of men is all guts and glory, of men riding, lifting, heaving, throwing, running, creating and leading.

This creates a tendency towards a lack of agency for women. We subconsciously end up imagining that someone needs to tap us on the shoulder, for us to wait to be invited, for it to be worthwhile; that being discovered like Australia’s Top Model is the holy grail (thank you NOT Dolly Magazine of the 70's and 80s'); and this somehow perpetuates a mixed up mess of, if you actually create your own success then it isn't as valid.

Logically this doesn’t even make sense, but it’s so ingrained in the thinking of yesteryear that it’s hard to decode or dismiss even now.

In 2015, I was attending an International Women’s Day function and was seated at a table with a mature-aged (75+) business woman renowned in the dispute resolution sector. She had just published her first, much awaited, book. When I asked her why she waited so long to write the book, she replied ‘No-one had invited me to write one before, so I didn’t think it would be the right thing to do’

This exemplifies much of what many of us still hold to be true. We're still waiting to be invited because we think it's the right thing to do. 

But the new rules for women are - if you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair. 

This takes focus, striving, strategy, influencing others and right effort.

So to answer the question? No this is not disingenuous. We women simply got the wrong memo. This is the secret ingredient that we've only recently stumbled upon. The men and women winning all the glory are quite simply, creating it for themselves.

Instead, we need to stop waiting and get on with the business of being great then create a world we want to inhabit.

As television producer Shonda Rhimes famously said ... 'I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass'.

YOUR THOUGHTS?  Have you had your badass moment yet?  Or deep down, are you still waiting?  Drop me a note and let me know.

#Icreatesheroes #womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

Share if you dare, to inspire another woman somewhere!

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The Importance of a Career Strategy for Executive Women

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“She believed she could, so she set a goal, then made a plan and worked the plan til she did.”
— A J Blesing

Do you remember Susan Colantuono's TED talk The Missing 33%?  In summary she says that "The Missing 33% of the career success equation for women is not because women don't or can't have business, strategic and financial acumen, but because very few women are clearly told how essential these skills are for reaching the top."

Great advice. Finally. A solution that works. 

And doesn't it feel good to be able to pinpoint the problem of lack of women in leadership to one particular issue?


IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?


Of course not. It’s an idea, not a silver bullet.

I don't need to tell you that the issue is much more challenging than merely understanding balance sheets - after all there are many superbly financially savvy female executives out there who still struggle.

Case in point my recent gobsmacking conversation with a well known male Financial Columnist who told me that women weren't good with money and didn't care about money and that he only knew two financially savvy female leaders (paraphrased - and perhaps he had watched Susan's TED talk but got the wrong end of the stick).  

Other issues in this complex area include:

  • exclusion tactics by those already in positions of leadership leaving some women believing it’s not only not possible, but not something they really want anyway

  • fewer opportunities at the top for both men and women (ergo higher competition)

  • lack of female role models in CEO roles (just 7% female CEO's in S&P/ASX200 in 2018) and 

  • the subsequent high levels of scrutiny and potential for backlash for executive women, sometimes culminating in a fall over the Glass Cliff which deters many others from following in her footsteps. Another case in point - the recent débâcle at the ABC. 


ANOTHER Idea - another MISSING 33% 

I've discovered a startling fact.

Most women don't have a clear career strategy. In fact, they've probably never even heard of the need for one.

According to recent research from the Women CEOs Speak Study (Korn Ferry and The Rockefeller Foundation, published August, 2018), "65% of the female CEOs surveyed said they only realised they could become a CEO after someone told them so. With few .... female CEOs to model after, only 12% of women CEOs said they had aspired to a CEO role for “a long time.”

In a nutshell, many executive women, including those already leading, don't aspire to become the boss - they don't aim for the top job, they don't believe it's a real option for them and they don't plan for the possibility of getting there. 

Someone else told them it was possible.

And I'm not surprised.

After talking with literally hundreds of women about their career plans here's what I notice in the narrative that surrounds women and their career - 

  • "I was lucky"

  • "Someone tapped me on the shoulder"

  • "I didn't know it was possible until my boss suggested I apply, and even then I didn't feel ready"

  • "I was in the right place at the right time" 

  • "My career just unfolded"

I recently facilitated a discussion with a room full of female CEOs and Managing Directors in Sydney where all but one said they had no plan to lead or clearly defined career strategy, and that the opportunities just presented themselves or unfolded. Three of them said they were simply lucky.

Passive language. No agency.  

Don't forget that luck is really what happens when planning meets opportunity - and not passive at all.


LET'S NOT BLAME THE WOMEN AGAIN
Let's not just blame women for yet another issue that they get wrong. Executive women have enough to feel guilty about without adding lack of career strategy to the burden.

  • We teach women about work - and how to do that well, rigorously, thoroughly and appropriately

  • We teach women about the importance having an identity outside of work

  • We're forever reinforcing the need for women to have work life balance and the ubiquitous Women in Leadership Conference panel on said topic is testament to that.

  • But what we don't teach young women and girls is about the importance of having a career strategy.  

    Is it that we educate boys differently? Yes, but not that much. However, the informal education of young men and boys, along with the role modelling from so many more male leaders definitely  includes the possibility that the top job might be for them should they want it and plan for it.

The socialisation of women and girls leaves a lot to be desired.   After all, many still believe it’s better to have effortlessly been discovered than to be perceived as having strived, pushed and manoeuvred to get to the top.

Organisations need help defining and following the necessary steps to maintain a proven pipeline of female leadership candidates .....….and women need help identifying the right career approaches to prepare for CEO roles.
— Jane Stephenson, Korn Ferry


However educators, coaches, mentors, sponsors, L&D professionals, talent acquisition and retention specialists all need to keep this in mind and ensure career strategy is part of talent development from the get go.  

Ensure that the talent you recruit or champion knows where they are aiming for and of the importance of having a clear plan for how they might get there.  



After all, if they don't know where they are going, how will they know when they get there?


FOR THE INDIVIDUAL? 

Senior level executive women need to ask for support in planning a possible tilt for the top from the moment they're appointed.  It's not over bold, it's simply a strategic play.  Wouldn't you prefer to find out sooner rather than later what the future might hold?

One super talented younger ambitious woman I mentor negotiated her tilt for her new bosses role, prior to her commencement date, with great success. It further enabled her boss to plan his exit strategy and groom her for taking over from the start.

If your career isn't working out for you right now, do something about it. Life's too short to stick in a role going nowhere, with a boss who keeps you playing small, in an organisation that you've out grown.   

You run the risk of becoming a smaller version of yourself and that helps no-one.

So take the time to get back in touch with what's important, where you were heading before you became a square peg in a round hole, and put a plan in action. 

Never forget, don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

After all, a mediocre plan that you executive is far better than a perfect plan in limbo. And any strategy, even the wrong one, is frequently better than no strategy.


SURVEY TIME
I'd love to know your thoughts - why not have your say?

  • It will only take two minutes and may be just the thing that helps us understand this issue further.

  • Do you attribute your success in your career to luck or planning? 

  • How has your approach worked for you?   

  • Click on the link for this survey to have your say. 

Want help with your career strategy and executive brand?
Why not book in a 30 min one on one  phone call to learn more. 1st in best dressed rules apply.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

3 Signs You’ll Struggle With A Career Change

1.  You always have excuses - It’s someone else’s fault, the timing isn’t right, there isn’t anything out there, I’ll never be good enough, I’ll never earn enough money.

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Enough said.

2.  You have kept your professional development to technical skills within the narrow band of your current expertise.

If you imagine that in 10 years you may be bored and want to do something different (highly likely as the norm is now about 5 - 7 career changes in the course of a career) you’ll also want to develop other things such as communication, negotiation, decision making, dealing with ambiguity & emotional intelligence.

3.  You have a low appetite for risk.  Yes, it can feel risky changing careers - at any age.

Is there a better age to change careers?  Not according to many. I’ve met people who have transitioned super successfully at any age - from 25 to 55.

There is a Chinese proverb “Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.”

Don’t let your age stop you from doing the things you really want to do.

CURIOUS?  I was interviewed by Gillian Wolski, Lifestyle Reporter from Ten Daily.  You can read more here

>> YOUR THOUGHTS? Is there ever a good time to change careers?

#career#careertransition  #ZeroExcuses

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

More Powerful Advice for Women Leading

Every few months I call out to my #feminineambition network for wisdom and advice for women and leadership. In case you missed it, here's the last one.

This month we learn from eight leading women in both Australia and overseas who are already doing it - tackling big juicy leadership problems with feminine leadership principles front of mind. Strategy, unpacking big business goals, managing staff, stakeholder relations and personal reflection are all under the microscope. Take what you need! And thanks so much to those who contributed.

 "Make sure everything you do plays to your vision (leaders should of course have articulated a vision for themselves). Another tip is to value and unpack those events or conversations that leave you feeling uncomfortable - they are your greatest learning opportunities as you hone your leadership skills." - Jocelyn Furlan, Principal, Furlan Consulting
“One of my biggest learnings in gaining respect in a boardroom dominated by men is to pick the right time to speak, make it powerful, focus on the big picture basing the comments on facts not emotions” -  Fiona Evans, Vice President, Customer Service, DHL
"When I think about how to tackle a business issue, or strive for growth through aspirational goals, I always start with the end in mind. Take the goal, target or outcome - then understand if we did nothing new what would the BAU performance be. This then identifies the true 'gap', target or goal! From there build an operational plan that addresses the 'gap'. Key success metrics, creation of executive and team member dashboards to allow regular communication of progress, provides run-way correction and initiatives as need to achieve your outcomes!"   - Deborah Harrigan, COO, Sales, Innovation, Technology and CX Consultant
“Take care of your team and your team will take care of you. Be interested in what they do outside of work and truly listen to them. You’ll be amazed at how much they’ll appreciate you for it. One of the biggest things I’ve seen time and time again is the amazing depth of knowledge that front line staff have of your business. Do the walk! Go out and meet the workforce. Ask them what their pain points are and how they think a process can be improved. You’ll be shocked at how much you’ll learn. Lastly, encourage failure. I know this sounds counter intuitive but from failure we learn. I like to meet with my team every week and ask them what they failed doing followed by what they learned from it. Being ok with failing in the workplace frees up anxiety and is quite liberating.” - Jo Zimpel PhD BI, Analytics and Strategy, Founder & Head Data Geek, DataNotes
"Always remember the value you bring to a relationship whether it is in a colleague, direct report, family or friend relationship. Once you appreciate this value, use it to reinforce your confidence and self-belief and encourage others to do the same."  - Jane Pires, Executive Manager - Group Customer Relations, Suncorp
"Change is a constant and inevitable. Your ability to manage change is a necessity." - Carla Wall, Managing Director, COINS Australia
"My approach is simple and well-tested: Build great relationships and establish clear goals. The positive relationships can be leveraged to collaborate and achieve your mission. As a leader, it's key to identify strong players, communicate well and keep those players engaged until you cross the finish line." - Shelley Elkins, Director, Customer Contact at CREDO Mobile
"Learn that the most challenging role in leadership can be working with the people not the projects.  Lead by example always and treat your people with respect - treat them how you like to be treated. Take time to get to know them but always remember that you are the final decision maker and need to be accountable and responsible for outcome. Everyone can teach you something new - give them the time to contribute their ideas." - Janita Friend, Managing Director and Owner, Best Friend PR and Marketing

Thanks for sharing everyone!

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes


If you enjoyed this article why not share? Let's spread the word to help smart 'n savvy women and men everywhere.
 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three Signs your LinkedIn Profile Sucks

Okay, lets be honest, the quality of your LinkedIn profile is pretty subjective. Some people like to provide broad brush strokes, others go into detail.  Some write in the first person, others in the third – although in my (subjective) opinion that’s just a teeny bit creepy and states out loud that you may not have written your bio yourself, or perhaps you haven’t really stepped into your own authority  i.e. “owning that shit”. The upper rungs of The Ambition Revolution program help women to step up, speak out and take charge. Writing in the first person, owning your own opinions and taking responsibility for your expertise is an important component. 

Your LinkedIn profile is an increasingly powerful tool in your career advancement tool kit for both professionals and entrepreneurs.  Back in 2011 industry pundits were predicting that in just 10 years you wouldn’t be asked to send in our CV anymore when applying for work – but instead relying on online tools such as LinkedIn.  

And while there are some valid arguments about lack of privacy, personalisation and ownership – I’m pretty sure that agile and progressive online platforms will work their way around those sorts of issues in the future, perhaps providing degrees of privacy that enable you to upload more sensitive data and send that more private link when applying for work.

In terms of personalisation and colour – if you use a recruiter then any personalisation is all stripped out anyway whether you like it or not.  Plus with moves in the diversity space for recruitment processes to eliminate our natural human propensity for unconscious bias (and that wonderful blind audition orchestra case study used as leverage)  I suspect this concern is old school thinking as we move to level out the playing field anyway.  

Loser

So here are three signs your profile is working against you, not for you, and a bunch of tips to get you thinking about how to amend.

1. Somehow, randomly, a recruiter finds you the good old fashioned way i.e. personal referral – and in the course of their conversation with you says,

“based on your profile you’re obviously not in the market for a job”(!!)

WHOOPS!  Even if you’re not actively looking for work, LinkedIn is a perfect positioning tool you can leverage to enhance your credibility within your current organisation. If done right your profile has the power to position you as an expert and gain you industry credibility - almost instantly.

2. You invite people you know to connect and they “ignore” your invitation – even when you send a 2nd and 3rd reminder.  Okay so that might be a bit of a dramatic interpretation – but if your profile is scaring people off, then you need to do something about it.  I’ve written previously about the 6 Signs That you need to Take your Personal LinkedIn Strategy Far More Seriously – well the same principles apply here.  Get a professional headshot done, update your profile with your expertise, get recommendations, gain endorsements and get connected. Too few connections might feel safe and secure to you, but in this hyper connected world it spells “loser” and you didn’t even know it.

3. You appear on page 2 of the LinkedIn search results amongst your connections – even when it’s your area of expertise!

Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?
Page 2 of Google (LinkedIn) results.

Yet the irony is, if your profile is actively working against you, it might be better if you feature on page 2 or 3 of the LinkedIn rankings. The principle of that old Google joke applies in LinkedIn.  If, when you do a LinkedIn search for the key things that you are good and you don’t appear anywhere near the top, you definitely need to take a moment to reflect.   Are you trying to bury yourself on page 2?  Or are you ready to “shine” and be listed on page 1?  If it’s the latter, simply do some SEO work on your profile and you can remedy that in a few minutes. 

So if you are reading this article and feeling at all uncomfortable about any of the points listed, its time to get busy. A LinkedIn facelift might be time consuming but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. A good profile can put you in the running of career opportunities that you might not find yourself and get you positioned as an expert in your field - all with minimal outlay by you.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

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  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months