Two Career Mistakes Women (and Men) Make

This weekend I celebrated the launching of Ask Ajna with it's founders Marian Cartwright and Jae Lynn Rangel both fellow alumnae of the Power of Self leadership program for women created by leadership guru, Marsha Clark

Ask Ajna is a new iphone application offering career advice for women. I think men will also find it beneficial, particularly in honing negotiation skills.

Ask Ajna stems from Jae Lynn and Marian's desire to share with others what they wish they had known 20 years ago, including how to avoid making the miskates that they made as young women executives. Here are two of my favorites from the list of mistakes women make delivered by Ask Ajna:

    1. Thinking your work speaks for itself. 
    2. Confusing Effort with Results. 

    I find that my women clients have a much more difficult time sharing their accomplishments, particularly in a way that emphasizes results. Many fear that taking credit for results diminishes the efforts of others or comes off as bragging. It's easier for them to talk about working hard or ackowledging the contributions of others. Yet accomplishment that goes unrecognized leaves many women ultimately feeling resentful and bewildered. 

    So, the next time someone asks you what you've been doing, answer with a result you've accomplished that makes you proud. For me, I just helped a client gain the job he wanted by preparing him well for an interview. I love it when I help my clients get great results in their work.  

    What Elephants are Roaming Through Your Organization?

    What do you need to be talking about in your organization that is only discussed behind closed doors? Last week I attended the Power of Self Leadership program and participated in an exercise called "Naming Elephants" based on the book of the same name. You've likely heard the saying that "there is an elephant in the middle of the room and no one is talking about it." The elephant is the obvious problem that we all know exists, yet don't mention, often because we fear retribution or embarrassment.  

    Some common elephants:

    1. It becomes normal to deviate from the rules.  Everyone knows the meeting starts 10 minutes late. The deadline is not the real deadline. It's ok to run over budget; in fact it's good. You will get more money next year!
    2. Not walking the talk. A leader says that he values all opinions, but tunes out or retaliates when an opposing view is expressed.
    3. Arrogance becomes the norm.  The company has a policy about expenses.  Some adhere; others do not. Leaders claim a high level of ethics, but accept perks from vendors.   
    4. Clever talk is valued over action. The "game" in the organization is to sound smart, tear down other's ideas, use the biggest words. Results are underappreciated.
    5. The system is broken. Top leadership does not set the vision or micromanages rather than developing managers. Those whose job it is to serve customers, don't know what to do. Middle managers are pulled in multiple directions, accomplishing little.

    What elephants roam your organization?  Here's a hint, what do people talk about behind closed doors? In the coffee room? On texts or emails during a meeting? Leave a comment or drop me a note. I would love to hear from you and share some common elephants on a future post.