The idea of men being better equipped for the business world has been up for debate for years now. With more women coming into positions of power within large companies, the news runs rampant with stories about whether or not these women can compete on the same level as their male counterparts. As big a leap as women in business have made there are still some major differences. So how do women compete at the same level as men in the business world and as entrepreneurs? Is it a game of copying how men proceed or going by your own rules?
Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs how women can work on the same level as men in business.
Do not act like a man
Do not act like a man! To be successful at an executive level, a woman does not have to take on the persona of a man. Your skills and talent got you to where you are, and you have to trust those abilities and be authentic. I think many women feel pressured to present themselves in a way that isn't true to who they are and that does a disservice to themselves and their companies. We do not have to be clones of men to be successful. In fact, it is the uniqueness of talent that makes a company stronger. It's also the responsibility of every business woman, especially those in positions of authority, to “pay-it-forward” and help mentor the young women coming up behind them. Instead of being threatened by other successful women, or judging each other about decisions to be a stay-at-home working Mother or a Mother who works outside the home, we need to be purposefully reaching out and forming relationships and networks. I think this is an area where men far surpass women in the workplace and is one of the reasons why we see fewer women in CEO positions.
Thanks to Leslye Schumacher, TalentQ Consulting, LLC
Related Post: Rise of the Female Entrepreneur
Taking your seat at the table
I spent my career working to be heard as a business resource with the same level of respect that men received by sometimes just showing up. It's really about taking your seat at the table, not asking for it. Having a level if self confidence, understanding subject matter and providing your opinion with fact to back up your position.
Thanks to Helene S. Meyers, Responsible Human Resource
Build your personal brand and story
I was raised in an entrepreneurial family where my mom worked just as hard as my dad to manage our growing art wholesale and retail businesses. She was an early, positive role model for me and laid a strong foundation so I never doubted my ability to be as productive as my male colleagues in the future. My next job was with the City of Tacoma in the Economic Development Department helping over 500 small businesses be more successful throughout six of the city's neighborhood business districts. I was lucky to have another positive, female mentor as my manager. We worked with many male-dominated departments, like urban planning, police, facilities, parks, etc. and I always saw my male colleagues as equals. One day, before an early morning meeting with the city council, I was trying to figure out how to make coffee in an old school percolator and my manager told me, “Don't ever learn how to make coffee so you can just take a seat at the table during a meeting along with the men and wait for someone else to make it.” I never did. Here are the tips I've learned from my more than 20 years in the work world on how to ensure women are working at the same level as male colleagues: 1. Be strategic: Keep your eye on your end goal and don't let anyone shift your focus. If you are working toward making a good living and having work-life balance, great. If you are trying to become a household name, fine. Just take time to clarify what you want to do. Then, map out a path on how to best get there and expect delays and detours along the way. Remember that you can take any speed bumps at a slow pace and with a sense of humor! 2. Build your personal brand and story: Come up with a clear, concise, compelling way to talk about yourself and your accomplishments. Know your strengths and build upon them to create a powerful brand story. 3. Find partners for collaboration: Find positive role models and mentors, informal or formal. These are women and men who will support you every step of the way along your career journey.
Thanks to Whitney Keys, Whitney Keyes Productions
Finding a balance between authoritative and approachable
Mastering the many cultural subtleties of asserting not just the quality of my work but my professional brand along with it has taken years of practice. I realized soon after college that while my work was very good its presentation was often being handed off to others with more polish in sharing it with superiors and clients. I started emulating the manager on my software project. She had a wonderful balance between being authoritative and approachable. I also took advantage of every opportunity to network so I could informally practice the relationship building skills that I would later need in formal meetings. My hard work paid off when three years ago I was promoted to the position of project manager that I once thought was beyond me.
Thanks Megan Cherveny, Harbor Business Compliance Corporation
Stick to the facts
Nothing is more important than this! The ability to consistently make decisions based on facts and rational analysis will hold you in good stead. With a measured dose of intuition when required! I find that when you start dealing with the actual work itself and are engaged in lucid, productive discussions, gender becomes pretty irrelevant. The more focused people are on actually doing a good job, the less room there is for other irrelevant issues to come into play. To help you stick to the facts, always make sure you do any necessary research about the task at hand and come well armed with information. This is absolutely critical and is the difference between doing an average job and doing a great job. I wouldn't be prescriptive about how to dress etc. Someone can look like a top notch executive but not perform adequately. Just make sure you look neat and organised (ie are organised).
Thanks to Nicole Lamond Philp, Universal Village Fair Trade Foods
Learn to play the game
Learn how to play the game. Men are masters at playing the business game. Don't take things too personally and think of the bottom line as well as relationship building. Work WITH the men instead of constantly fighting them. You get more bees with honey than vinegar.
Thanks to Amanda Rose, Strategic Connector
Related Post: Does Sex Still Sell?
Do it, already
Years ago the big push for women to compete effectively in the business world was to adopt a style of dress and approach similar to men. So much has changed since then, but there are definitely tactics women can utilize to improve their working relationships, both with men and women, and their effectiveness as leaders. The most direct approach you can take is to put yourself on a leadership path. This means identifying the next career step and then acting the role for the job you want. Do your research and find out what makes an effective leader and consider where you need to improve—and, yes, we should ALL be continuously looking for ways to improve! Consider finding a mentor to help you on your path. Women will sometimes have to work harder and smarter just to get ahead. Just recognize this, roll up your sleeves and do it. Network to get ahead. Many people think that networking is just going to industry events and “working the room” to meet as many people as possible. Unless this is a speed dating event, I would recommend you focus your networking whenever possible. Join groups that will help you reach your goal, and then attend events. If you can do so, get a list of those who are expected to attend. Mark those you know and would like to catch up with, then do some research and target one or two new people you’d like to meet at the event. Quality is more important than quantity when you are networking. And don’t forget that you should be networking internally, as well. Ultimately, who you know DOES matter. Finally, don’t oversell your position. Men typically use fewer words than women do and they are used to that. Your thoughts should be well organized and concise. Make a strong point and then stop. Ultimately, you are the one to decide where you want your career to go and you will have to the steps to make it happen.
Thanks to Jeanne Frazer, vitalink
Show up and participate at the same venues
Learn the language men use and show up (and participate) at venues where men interact with others, such as the golf course. Carol Wight: Women must get comfortable with their own voices and feminine leadership styles — and speak up!
Thanks to Katie Snapp, Skirt Strategies
Don't go for less challenging work early in your career
Many women start companies when they become mothers, because you have much more flexibility when you work for yourself. But the first year or so of a startup is often the hardest. My recommendation is to get that out of the way earlier in your career, when you're better able to put in the nights and weekends. Work hard at it, and grow your company as much as you can, so that by the time you reach the kid stage, you've already built this revenue-generating engine. Especially if you've built a business that doesn't require your constant presence to make money, your income can continue to grow even as you work fewer hours. – Don't go for less challenging work early in your career because you know eventually you want children. Rather, hurl yourself into the most ambitious career moves available to you (or Lean In, as a recent book would say) until the very moment when you have a child. If you do so, you'll likely have made it to a higher position, which offers the dual benefits of more flexibility and compensation — both of which are handy when you have a kid. – Also for women who expect to be mothers, think about establishing some streams of passive income. I did this by writing a few books. That way, those revenue streams provide me a few extra dollars toward the aforementioned flexibility — and child care or…?
Thanks to Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin, Tribe, Inc.
Fight for your own sake
If there's one tip for women to follow in order to work at the same level as their male counterparts, it's to fight for their own sake. There is always competition in business. Sometimes competition will come down to win-lose scenarios. Women especially must not shy away from this concept. Men tend to embrace the “conquer or be conquered” mentality, thus for the women to compete effectively in such an environment, they would have to set out to conquer as well. In order to reach the top, women have to focus on plowing forward with all their might; so stay strong, avoid distractions and don't look back.
Thanks to David Miri, Awardable.com
Related Post: The Value of Women in Startups
Thinking on the same level
Men and women are wired differently on a psychological level, thus we approach things differently. Oftentimes it's said that men can become successful in business because they know how to keep things strictly professional and not take things personally. Women can do the same by thinking on the same level first. So our tip is to wave off the naysayers that may feel insecure from your endeavors and ambitions, and don't bother to try to please everyone. Think for yourself and don't worry about what others think; after all, entrepreneurship is a full-time job that requires a clear, focused mind, so work while tuning out the distracting outside forces that can affect you on an emotional level.
Thanks to Michael Pesochinsky, GovernmentBargains
Stop second-guessing yourself
Women need to stop second-guessing themselves when it comes to business. We have such great instincts that we need to listen to and follow. We also need to be prepared to be seen as “bitches” and toughen up when it comes to negotiating and presenting. It is sad that we will never be equal in the eyes of men, but the more we keep pushing forward and not let them restrict us or step on our toes, the more we will be respected in the workplace, and that in turn will lead to further opportunities in the future.
Thanks to Judy Goss, Over 40 Females