My last few articles dealt with some realities of being a woman in the Corporate world and the three skills I believe all professional women need and can absolutely learn. Those were: calibrating our internal guidance systems, ally network building and capacity for playing the conflict game.
Today I’m switching it up and sharing with you some examples of what happens when women learn those skills in a Trajectory Boost and put them to use.
First, there’s the author and activist who was struggling to make forward progress on a big project, feeling lonely and frustrated as she saw others gaining momentum and achieving goals around her. She found herself easily distracted by multiple projects and often using them as ways to put off the work that felt scary in both effort and scope for success. By tuning in to her internal guidance system and using it with confidence to guide her day-to-day work as well as her longer-term vision and planning, she is now on a path to finish the big project and achieve so much more. In fact, her goals now are things she hadn’t even considered before. She says:
“I felt aligned with myself and on track for something bigger than what I had been imagining for myself.”
That inner knowing, and the trust in one’s abilities that come from it, signal real resilience. And resilience is what enables us to bounce back from setbacks, recover from difficult situations and go into difficult conversations with a sense of purpose and possibility.
Let’s also consider also the Product Manager who was new to her company and an industry expert. As a former entrepreneur she was unsure of how to find her footing and be seen as someone who was creating value for the firm. By strategically mapping out the power structures in the firm and what was expected of her she decided where and how she would make herself visible, in ways that suited her. This directly impacted how her work was evaluated. By gaining influence over that process, her anxiety and impostor syndrome diminished markedly. By speaking and acting with power but without “acting like a man” she was able to deeply connect with neutral parties and potential allies and enroll them in her ally network. This further calmed her anxiety and gave her the space to think through how she wanted her role within the firm to grow. She says:
“Now I feel that I’m on solid ground and can see how to advance into the position I actually want in this firm.”
And, there’s the COO who struggled with feeling overwhelmed from being crazy busy, dealing with impostor syndrome and wanting to “sit at the boys table.” By learning to deal with an abusive bully in a very controlled and dignified manner – building her capacity for conflict – she ensured that the bully in question stopped confronting her. She’s been able to skillfully deal with other challengers at the office since that first success. In the process has found herself confidently taking her place at the table with her male colleagues, often leading the discussion and spearheading projects. When I talked with her a few months into her mastery of these tools I heard the resilience and strength the had regained for the long professional game. She says:
“I felt empowered. I gained back my confidence and belief in myself.”
Each of these women learned new skills that allowed them to overcome the challenges they faced at their unique level of work and with the colleagues they work with. There are two important points that I’d like you to keep in mind as you consider these stories. I’ll cover those in my next article.