Sunday, August 17, 2008

Be a Woman Not a Nice Girl - Azara Feroz Sayed

This post is based on the book "Nice Girls don't get the Corner Office - 101 Unconscious mistakes that women make that sabotage their careers" by Dr Lois Frankel.

It is a good and fast read. Thanks to the very efficient organization of the book - even those who are fighting for time can get to it in couple of hours. The first chapter has questions to identify the 'Nice Girl' like behaviours that we might be indulging in due to lack of knowledge - holding us back professionally. Using the score in one of the seven areas (see below) - we can move to the chapter where we have scored less and within that chapter too we can skip those items from the 101s that we are comfortable with. I would recommend using this approach incase you are short of time. The stories and the guidelines provided for each of the 101s are insightful so a quick review of all would be good.

My score was high in Play and Act - while I was answering the questions - I was grinning at some of the questions - These were some of the Qs that I was doing well due to Feroz's constant push.

The "Nice Girl" beliefs related to work that help us be a "good worker" are not good enough to move up the ladder and would hit a plateau because of those is the message I could get from the book. I consider time spent in discussing personal stuff, politics etc as waste of time which was good while I was a team member but certainly not helpful in building relationships and growing in the career - Dr. Lois requests to waste time!

I intend to write down sometime soon (before I return the book) the action items for each of the 101s that I found interesting.

Do enjoy some of the Videos that I found where Dr Lois talks about
Importance of Brand Building

Talking about football is not wast of time - it is building relationships

Every time you open your mouth its a presentation

Dr Lois interview in Today

Being professional is not acting like a man or aggresively - its about stepping into full adult woman from Nice Girl
1. How You Play the Game
Unfortunately, women are not as trained to participate in competitive sports. It is only recently that women started making their marks in this field. Thus, most women do not know the rules of the game of business. They simply do not know how to play it—and more importantly, how to win it. Some of the common mistakes women commit as they play the game of business are:
1. Pretending it isn't a game
2. Playing the game safely and within bounds
3. Working hard
4. Doing the work of others
5. Working without a break
6. Being Naive
7. Pinching Company Pennies
8. Waiting to be given what you want
9. Avoiding office politics
10. Being the conscience
11. Protecting jerks
12. Holding your tongue
13. Failing to capitalize on relationships
14. Not understanding the needs of your constituents

2. How You Act
Being successful in the world of business is not only dependent on your knowledge of how to play it. It is also important to know how to act, professionally. Dr. Frankel enumerates some unlikely behaviors in the workplace that can be hard career busters.
1. Polling before making a decision
2. Needing to be liked
3. Not needing to be liked
4. Not asking questions for fear of sounding stupid
5. Acting like a man
6. Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth (so help you God)
7. Sharing too much personal information
8. Being overly concerned with offending others
9. Denying the importance of money
10. Flirting
11. Acquiescing to bullies
12. Decorating your office like your living room
13. Feeding others
14. Offering a limp handshake
15. Being financially insecure
16. Helping

3. How You Think
Changing the way you think can greatly impact a change in your career. Note the beliefs and thought patterns you learn early in girlhood that you need to reconsider and then eventually forget. Some of these are:
1. Making miracles
2. Taking full responsibility
3. Obediently following instructions
4. Viewing men in authority as father figures
5. Limiting your possibilities
6. Ignoring the quid pro quo
7. Skipping meetings
8. Putting work ahead of your personal life
9. Letting people waste your time
10. Prematurely abandoning your career goals
11. Ignoring the importance of network relationships
12. Refusing perks
13. Making up negative stories
14. Striving for perfection.

4. How You Brand and Market Yourself
Marketing oneself is as important as marketing a specific brand. Think of yourself as a brand that’s needs to be marketed effectively. Alongside these come some important points that women need to particularly remember. The following are some mistakes to avoid in marketing yourself:
1. Failing to define your brand
2. Minimizing your work or position
3. Using only your nickname or first name
4. Waiting to be noticed
5. Refusing high-profile assignments
6. Being modest
7. Staying in your safety zone
8. Giving away your ideas
9. Working in stereotypical roles or departments
10. Ignoring feedback
11. Being invisible

5. How You Sound
Put special attention to your choice words, tone of voice, speed of speech and thought organization process. These usually matter more than the content of your speech. An articulately delivered speech will help you be branded as knowledgeable, confident and competent. Remember, how you sound comprises 90% of your credibility. Take note of these common mistakes:
1. Couching statements as questions
2. Using preambles
3. Explaining
4. Asking permission
5. Apologizing
6. Using minimizing words
7. Using qualifiers
8. Not answering the question
9. Talking too fast
10. The inability to speak the language of your business
11. Using nonwords
12. Using touchy-feely language
13. Sandwich-effect
14. Speaking softly
15. Speaking at a higher-than-natural pitch
16. Trailing voice mails
17. Failing to pause or reflect before responding

6. How You Look
There is this common notion that “the best and the brightest are rewarded with promotions and choice assignments.” This is entirely wrong. Those who are competent enough, sound and look good are the ones who move forward in their careers. Statistically, research shows that 55% of your credibility comes from how you look; 38% from how you sound; and, only 7% from what you actually say. Carry yourself properly by avoiding these mistakes:
1. Smiling inappropriately
2. Taking up too little space
3. Using gestures inconsistent with your message
4. Being over- or underanimated
5. Tilting your head
5. Wearing inappropriate makeup
6. Wearing the wrong hairstyle
7. Dressing inappropriately
8. Sitting on your foot
9. Grooming in public
10. Sitting in meetings with your hands under the table
11. Wearing your reading glasses around your neck
12. Accessorizing too much
13. Failing to maintain eye contact

7. How You Respond
It is important to know how to respond to the ways others treat you. And some of the common pitfalls women do as a response to a certain gesture are as follows:
1. Internalizing messages
2. Believing others know more than you
3. Taking notes, getting coffee, and making copies
4. Tolerating inappropriate behavior
5. Exhibiting too much patience
6. Accepting dead-end assignments
7. Putting the needs of others before your own
8. Denying your power
9. Allowing yourself to be the scapegoat
10. Accepting fait accompli (irreversible or predetermined decisions)
11. Permitting others' mistakes to inconvenience you
12. Being the last to speak
13. Playing the gender card
14. Tolerating sexual harassment
15. Crying
Women need to be advocates for themselves by playing up their strengths - like being nurturing, accommodating and good listeners - while also adding complementary behaviors. "You don't have to be like a guy to get ahead in business, but you do have to be an adult woman," said Frankel.

One common mistake Frankel sees women make is couching statements as questions. By doing that, women hand over the power of decision-making to someone else, like the boss.Instead of using phrases like, "Would it be all right if . . .," she suggests saying, "I just want to let you know ..." or "I've got this great idea that I'd like to move forward with, and I want to give you the heads-up on it."

Women, who tend to react more quickly than men, need to instead take some time to think about how to best handle a situation, said Maureen McCormick, director of the learning and development unit in the human resources department at the University of Iowa.

Frankel's other suggestions for women include: - Don't explain ad nauseam. Women look for clues like "mmm hmm" and head nods to ensure that the message they're trying to convey is getting through. When women don't get that reinforcement, "We make our point, we make it again, and make it again," she said. "The more words you use, the more you soften a message."

Don't use minimizing words. If someone compliments you on a job well done, steer clear from saying, "It was nothing," or "I was really lucky." Instead say, "Thank you, I'm proud of what I achieved."

Do go to meetings. Women often think that poorly run meetings are a waste of time, and that they can skip them in lieu of doing more productive tasks, Frankel said. Instead, meetings should be seen as a place to network and build relationships that can benefit you in the future.

Don't apologize for other people's mistakes or misdirection. The boss gave you minimal instructions for a project. Once you've completed it, the boss says that it wasn't what he had in mind. Instead of saying, "I'm sorry," and minimizing your position, Frankel suggested, "Well, the instructions weren't clear to me. Tell me how you want it."

Do get involved in office politics. Replace the word "politics" with "relationships," Frankel said. "That's what politics is - it's about building a relationship before you need it."

Create the word on the street. A routine exercise we do in leadership classes is to ask participants to write a twenty-five-word vision statement of how they want to be described, then list the behaviors needed to get them there. You can do the same. Write down what you want others to be saying about you, then follow it up with specific actions to make it happen. In short, accept the responsibility of adulthood.

Ask for feedback. If you're worried that you are in some way acting inappropriately, ask a trusted friend or colleague for feed-back. Avoid asking a yes-no question (such as, “Did you think I was out of line?”). Try asking an open-ended question that will give you insight into how you are perceived (such as, “Tell me what I did in that meeting that helped me or hindered me from achieving my goals”).

Don't aim for perfection!!


Add to Technorati Favorites My Zimbio
Top Stories