If you are a woman seeking respect in an industry where testosterone reigns supreme, i.e., financial services, you need to learn how to successfully navigate the arena, or you’ll get eaten alive by the corporate wolves.
Many previously male-dominated fields are now opening their doors to women. But many still hesitate when it comes to letting women climb the industry ladder. Despite women proving their intellectual progress through advanced education, people treat women like they haven’t earned respect in the workplace.
If you want to avoid being assigned the secretarial duties that none of the men want, here is what you can do to earn respect and be perceived as a valuable contributor.
1. Be in the Know in your Industry.
Read books. Listen to podcasts. Attend conferences. Join industry organizations. Stay up-to-date on industry trends.
Competence builds confidence. When you are able to communicate your recent findings about the industry or share information you heard at a conference, you will instantly have more confidence about your contributions to the team.
Want to use your natural writing abilities to take your knowledge to the next level? Write a compelling article about your industry, and your credibility will instantly go up.
2. Learn from Mentors Whom You Respect.
Don’t try to navigate the landscape on your own. Accelerate your progress and assimilation by understanding what it takes to succeed.
Who better to show you the ropes than somebody who has been in your shoes and has successfully moved up the ladder? Find a mentor whom you can trust.
Mentors aren’t limited to your place of employment. Join professional organizations or online groups where you can build relationships with individuals who can serve as mentors. Don’t only reach out to women. Find mentors of the opposite gender, too!
3. Continue Honing Your Skills.
Don’t become old news in the workplace. Remain relevant and valuable by investing in your professional development.
Obtain certifications that show your commitment and professional competencies. Take advantage of company training sessions that allow you to become a subject-matter expert. Build your technical skills so you can increase your productivity.
Don’t be surprised if your brilliant skills lead to an invitation to teach others what you have learned.
4. Be a Well-Rounded Communicator.
Your technical skills will get you in the door, but being able to articulate your views among different audiences will earn you the respect you deserve.
Many women fall into the trap of undermining their credibility by consistently using weak language. Using words such as “I think” or “just” sabotages the quality of your message. Incorporating filler words such as “uh,” “you know,” and “like” leaves others questioning your professionalism and the validity of your points.
Need to spruce up your communication skills? Join a local Toastmasters club, where you can practice your extemporaneous speaking, presentation skills, and even receive valuable feedback in a safe and supportive learning environment.
5. Ask for What You Want.
One of the most underutilized success tools for women in the workplace is the ability to ask for what you want. What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen?
Too many career desires remain unfulfilled just because you failed to ask. Asking does not always require you to verbally communicate your desires. Write a compelling proposal stating why you want something and how your having it will add tremendous value.
Being strategic in your approach by focusing on the potential gains for the company will increase your chances of getting the “YES” that you are seeking.
6. Engage in Candid Conversations with Your Boss.
Don’t try to be superwoman. You don’t have to overexert yourself to prove your capabilities. This could actually damage your reputation and cause people to slam all of the mundane work on your desk.
Be open. Practice honesty. Share realistic expectations.
Discuss expectations with your boss regularly and keep them updated on your status. If your boss wants you to take on extra work, let them know what you will need in order to make that happen in a reasonable time frame. People respect those who are open and can communicate what they are able to do.
7. Focus on Being a Valuable Contributor.
There are many labels that can be placed on people to form divisions or levels of superiority in the work place. Don’t focus on that. Spend your time thinking about how you can make the greatest impact in the workplace.
How will you add value today? Shift your mindset, and you will notice that people will change how they see you.
We are all human. Don’t get trapped in thoughts of how being a woman can negatively impact you in the workplace. Instead, focus on the unique skills that you bring into the workplace that can take the company from where they are to where they want to be.