Last week, I spoke at a women's event at Medtronic, the company I retired from. I take tremendous pride in the number of women I sponsored and mentored during my career who rose to senior positions. Here are the three things women need to do to advance in their careers:
1. Be bold: Set your goals high and let people know what they are. Be specific; for
example, say, "I want to run a business, become CFO, CIO, etc." then start getting the
necessary experiences and exposure to achieve your goals. You can't be bold by playing it safe and by trying to please everyone; you will have to take some calculated risks at
times by taking on different assignments that will take you out of your comfort zone
and also by calling right, right, and wrong, wrong.
2. Be confident: Whenever you set bold goals, haters will come out telling you they can't
be achieved. They will try to take away your confidence. The biggest doubter will be
your own mind. Indeed, every person, especially women, has that "Itty, bitty, crappy
committee" that meets everyday in her mind telling her that she can't do this or can't
do that. (I want to thank my good friend Gerri Elliot for that saying.)
Begin every day by telling yourself that you are the woman and play the song "All I do
is Win!" to start your day. Also, when you are confident and bold, you might have
someone call you the "B" word. Acknowledge the double standard that, men are
complimented for being aggressive, while women are sometimes criticized -- you'd
much rather be criticized than be thought of as timid. Also, confidence isn't a matter of
knowing everything; it's your ability to find out what you don't know and to deal with
what you didn't expect, which leads into the third thing...
3. Be resilient: No plans work perfectly and no goals are achieved without setbacks.
Success goes to the resilient, sometimes referred to as people with "Grit". In other
words, your ability to learn from--and not dwell on--mistakes, the unexpected, and
haters. You can't move ahead by looking backward. To that point, the main question I
ask people in interviews is, "Tell me the biggest mistake or setback you have
experienced." Winners tell me not only what it was, but also how they bounced back
and up from it. Indeed, resilience is a critical trait because when you set bold goals, you
have to be willing to get lost for the right destination and to be wrong for the right
Summary: These three traits will cause doors to open for you because people sitting behind them will notice you, sponsor you, and open doors for you. Speaking of sponsors, it is the responsibility of us men who are sitting behind the door to create a culture and set the tone at the top for women who do these three things and get results to succeed. They can knock, but it is up to us to open the door. The road won't be easy, but it will definitely be worth the journey because your achievements will inspire others, both women, and men, to follow.
Wisdom: Success goes to the bold, the confident, and the resilient.
James Dallas & Associates, he consults with and speaks to companies and organizations about managing change. He has been names one of the most powerful black men in corporate America serval times in his career by Black Enterprise and Savoy magazines.