8 Ways Women Can Win the Game

businessmen and women

Men and women “play” differently in the workplace. By knowing how to use different leadership styles, women can win the game.

Women–how many times has this happened to you? You’re sharing an idea in a meeting when suddenly you’re cut off–by a man.

According to participants in my women advancement workshops, it happens A LOT. The women view this behavior as a sign of disrespect and obliviousness where the men think it’s reasonable behavior and healthy competition.

This is one of many ways in which men and women “play” differently at work. And, these different styles can create friction and hold women back. But, if women learn the game and switch their leadership styles when necessary, we may be able to start taking up more space in the C-suite.

Here are eight ways women can play like women and win like men:

Pat yourself on the back.

A lot of women feel uncomfortable drawing attention to their accomplishments. They’ll say “we” when it’s really “I” or say nothing at all.

Gail Evans, the author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman, says because the workplace is run by a game where winning is the apparent objective, self-promotion is a way to show power. She advises not to be afraid to toot your own horn. If you don’t, no one else will.

Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

Men often have no qualms about turning down a project while women take on more and more.

Many women fear saying “no” is a sign of weakness–a sign that they can’t hack it. But Christopher Flett, author of What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business, says it is exactly the opposite. He says, “No-one promotes a ‘pile-on'”–a term he uses for someone who takes on more and more, never saying “no.”

I advise the women in my workshops that it’s okay to prioritize. “Work less and get promoted” is the statement I use over and over again. It’s getting women to think differently.

Speak up.

In the new book The Influence Effect, released this week, the authors from coaching firm Flynn Heath Holt reveal research that shows about half of women have significant difficulty inserting themselves into crucial meeting discussions. That’s while half of men say the most important thing women should address in meetings is being more confident and direct, less equivocal and apologetic.

Not speaking up in meetings is a tremendous missed opportunity to sell your ideas and yourself. Don’t be cowed by louder or more aggressive colleagues, or wait to be invited into the conversation. Force yourself to speak up more and defend your point of view. The authors of The Influence Effect share this advice–arrive early, speak early and ask questions.

Be confident.

In The Confidence Code, co-author Katty Kay says that research shows confidence is more important than competence–and women tend to focus firmly on the latter.

Don’t be afraid to take on something new and then figure it out. See it as an opportunity for growth–and believe that you can do it, even if you’ve never done it before.

Get to the point.

Men are generally conditioned to act, and so their communication style tends to be more solution-oriented and to the point. When communicating with men, women should aim to be succinct, direct and use declarative statements as opposed to finishing sentences with question marks.

Be specific with feedback.

If you’re leading men or collaborating with them, be specific in your directions–and especially your criticism.

Many men are hard-wired to let criticism roll off them. Rather than generalities, offer specific action items for them to act on.

Hit the water cooler.

The women at Flynn Heath Holt see “networking” or “schmoozing” as using the “power of the informal.” That means women can gain influence by working behind the scenes and using informal networks to strengthen relationships and get the support they need.

So, circulate the office or stay late at a meeting to find common ground with your male colleagues–talk about your kids or mutual interest in movies. This bond will extend to your working relationship and help you in the long run.

Don’t take things personally.

Because men and women communicate differently, often men’s way of doing things can be off-putting to women.

Remember that men aren’t likely trying to insult, offend or alienate you. And if they are, it’s even more important to put it back on them. You can use it as a coaching moment for yourself–and for them.

Working across gender in the workplace is more of an art than a science, but knowing these gender differences may quell some misunderstandings and even help more women get into the C-suite.

A version of the post was first published on Inc.

You’re a Woman, and You’re About to Lose Your Job–Make These 5 Career Moves

business woman holding box with office items.

Layoffs in the U.S. are up–20 percent last month over the previous month–and many workers are finding themselves unprepared for the impending job loss.

For women, job loss can be particularly difficult because most professional women are really busy. We’re so busy getting tasks done and taking care of others that we aren’t in the habit of focusing on what we need and what’s good for us.

In the recent economic climate and in a world swirling with unknowns, we can’t risk leaving ourselves out of the picture. Otherwise, we risk being blindsided.

So, sisters, here are six steps to get your work affairs in order and prepare for the worst.

1. Know your strengths.

We need to be acutely aware of what we’re good at. Ask yourself some simple questions–like, “What do I love to do at work?” or “Where do I bring value to my team?” Write down your answers. Ask others what they think your strengths are, too, and review old performance reviews.

Use this material to create your personal brand statement that succinctly outlines your capabilities, what you’re passionate about, what you stand for, and what you might want to aspire to next.

2. Shamelessly self-promote.

A lot of women have a tough time tooting their own horns. They don’t want to sound boastful. But, it’s important to highlight your success and attributes, and there are ways to do so that don’t sound obnoxious.

So, speak to where and when you’ve brought value. Talk about achievements you’ve made as a team or in collaboration with others. Promote the leaders of your organization when discussing your work successes.

Let people know about projects you’re excited about, how you contributed to them, and what’s next for you. Bonus points if you talk about new challenges you hope to work on next.

3. Target your network.

There are many ways to network–cold calling new people, attending conferences, meeting with mutual contacts–but doing something called “targeted networking” holds the most promise–especially for those whose jobs hang in the balance.

Targeted networking means making a list of the key people who can help you be successful or get you to your next play, and then set up a short meeting with them (even over the phone). The purpose is particular. You have a goal for the meeting and an outline of what you want to say. This outline includes sharing what you’re working on and what you want to come next for yourself professionally.

4. Refine your ask.

Know what you want and ask for it. Know what you’d like to have in your next career move–a new title, more money, or new work content. There’s no reason to think you can’t make lemonade out of a sour job loss. It may give you the guts to spring for the job you’ve always wanted.

5. Talk with your manager.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation that you know you’ll be jobless soon, talk with your manager about it. Put your feelings aside and ask them if they can help you with the next step by writing a recommendation or putting you in touch with key contacts.

Exiting gracefully is essential as you never know where your paths may cross again.

6. Talk with recruiters.

An impending job loss or not, it’s never a bad idea to put yourself out there using social media like LinkedIn and other recruiting sites. Update your photo and information, and leave yourself open. LinkedIn even has a new function where you can let only recruiters know you’re looking for opportunities.

Doing this lets you know your market value and can help build confidence. And, it can give you a plan B if plan A falls apart.

Even if your job is secure and you think you’re not going anywhere, life is full of surprises. No one has ever been sorry for being prepared for the worst.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

How to Self-promote (Globally) Without Being Obnoxious

Global Self Promotion

Nowadays, self-promotion is almost synonymous with getting ahead. It can show your boss you’re ready for more opportunities. When done right, it can show your team you’re their advocate.

Doing it should be a dedicated task, particularly in large global organizations. People don’t know what you’re up to and what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them. This can be true, in some cases, even with your immediate boss and team.

You need to create opportunities for visibility. {TWEET THIS}

But the global aspect of our business world can be a double-edged sword. While it makes it a must to promote your work, it also makes it tricky to do so. Different cultures view self-promotion differently. In the U.S., people tend to admire the “skill” of being self-confident and the ability to tout your own successes. In Europe, on the other hand, self-promotion can be seen as distasteful. If you’re going to boast, you better boast about how your actions benefited others. In Asia, the collectivist mindset means self-promotion is more akin to talking about the accomplishments of the team and company overall.

Because most of us are working globally, we need to master the art of self-promotion so that it’s done in a way that is tasteful, increases our credibility, and makes ourselves, teams, and bosses look good across cultures.

So, here are three ways to do that:

Focus on results. When speaking of your success or actions, talk about the impact on your team. How many customers did you attract? How much money was made? What changes, developments, or innovations were caused because of what you and your team worked on?

Create opportunity for visibility. Write articles, blogs, or make videos about you, your team or company’s success. Look for speaking opportunities on panels or at conferences to talk about what you did. Conferences, in particular, love to hear real-world examples from people in the trenches.

Don’t forget to network. Consider spending 10-20 percent of your time on targeted networking. Targeted networking means you identify those useful to your career, team, or boss, and create opportunities to link up. Invite them to team meetings, host events, have lunches and happy hours, and spend time chatting.

The global nature of our business world has lent itself to flatter structures which means we can no longer rely on top management to do the promotion of individuals and teams. We need to be advocates for ourselves. So get comfortable and learn the authentic, genuine ways to promote the good work you and your team are doing.

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