Why I Do What I Do
Melanie sat at her desk. How did she get here? She loved being a bench scientist. She so enjoyed solving problems with research. Her team liked her, and she liked them.
But since her last promotion she had a bigger team. She had no time for bench science anymore. Worst of all she had frequent interactions with Anthony the CEO. Dealing with him made her feel like a teenager filled with self-doubt.
She had a consistent goal since school to become a scientist, and never did she expect she would find herself here. For the first time she had no idea of what steps were needed to get where she wanted to be. Actually, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to be at all. Now taking the next promotion that was being dangled in front of her would mean dealing with Anthony on the daily. Melanie was unsure she could morph her personality enough to make that workable. Any way she looked at it, it would mean constant unhappiness.
Do you know Melanie? Are you Melanie?
So many women find themselves in this space. After years of knowing exactly what was needed next, getting the grades in high school, to get into the right college, maintaining an exemplary GPA, the assistant position with the top professor, the right grad program, the notable internships, the amazing entry job, and promotions…they find themselves looking at the ladder they were climbing, unsure that they even want to get to the top that they have dreamed of for years.
More than all of that, they are scared that they won’t be able to maintain their success once they’re at the top because the type of person who kills it at that level isn’t like them. They would have to pretzel their real personality to fit into a fake work persona. But I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. Those fears, even if they have been learned by experience, aren’t doing you any favors, and are probably holding you back.
Women can achieve greater success in their life and their career being just who they are, no change needed to their values and vision.
Once upon a time, I was Melanie…
I shifted my career from the nonprofit world to sales in my early 30’s. I had not seen incredible success in my prior roles. I had some success as the Director of Development of a small non-profit. I associate a great part of that success with the support of my manager! Unfortunately, moving into the for-profit world did not offer a smooth start.
I worked for a very male dominated company and found myself on the outside looking in on a boy’s club. I was constantly trying to find ways to fit in and get my point across, but it was difficult for anything I say to click with my superiors. This mystified me; I am and always have been a great communicator. I am the youngest of four children, a family of engineers, and I take after my relationship building mom! Working in this company and trying to fit the square peg of me into the round hole of my job and my co-workers was painful. I tried so many different ways until finally I decided it was time to make the jump out .
Taking that move to a new job was the right one. The manager that I landed next was truly a gift. Whether you call it fate or luck, he - yes HE – was the exact mentor I needed at that time. , He taught me how I could make it work any way I wanted. He helped me look at what I was really good at and how to use it to my full advantage. He taught me to know my weaknesses and plan for them. Sometimes that meant bringing a partner on a call, sometimes it meant being ok with not scheduling days my kids had games so I could be there.
As a mom of four with two step kids that was important for me to realize. I know that the lessons I learned in that position have opened me up to finding this amazing job I have now and the confidence I have in myself to do it well. And that man supported me in my transition. There is magic in believing in yourself. There is magic in being open to try things and determine what works. That takes a strong belief in yourself and the support of others around you.
Feeling that joy of finding myself, especially after a tough experience in a male dominated field, made me want to help other women find their groove. I have spent years talking to, working with people and reading. In my research, I have defined five critical steps to move you ahead in your career, have more confidence and increase your leadership abilities.
The 5 steps are….
1. Build your foundation
This is your your vision, your values, and your leadership persona. Be wild, shoot higher, push yourself to those deeper dreams. Don’t fall into the trap that you have to look or act like someone else to be successful. Use your unique traits too.
2. Challenge your messaging
Change that thinking that is holding you back. Everyone struggles with this. What did you learn as a child that isn’t serving who you are now?
3. Assess your confidence metrics
This includes your overall leadership confidence and your confidence on each slice of the pizza, so to speak.
4. Determine your action plan
Once you have an idea of what you need to work on to reach your goals, write out what actions you can take to reach them. Remember to actually write these actions out!
5. Create your own personal board of directors
These people are your A team to bounce ideas off of and get advice from. It doesn't have to just be work-related people but it should not be ONLY your partner or your mom (no matter how good her advice is!).
In the next few weeks I will be posting videos about each step of these 5 steps in the Up Level Leadership Facebook group. You can join that private Facebook community here.
Dream big! You can be anything you choose to be.