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No matter the company, women in the workforce face a fair share of gender stereotypes. This is true, and we would never negate this fact. But all bias aside, there are many ways women unintentionally undermine their own business success.
According to acclaimed author and leadership development consultant, Sally Helgesen, many females, marketers included, fall into their own traps every day. In her book, How Women Rise, she outlines twelve behaviors women in the workforce do to limit their reach. In this post, we’re going to address some!
Let’s face it, ladies, your behaviors are something you can control— and it’s time we take the reigns. As a marketer, you put a lot of energy into maintaining and growing brands, so let’s take that moxy and channel it into making some personal improvements.
1. Start Claiming & Publicizing Your Ideas & Achievements
As a marketer, you need two things to be powerful (and successful): a strong belief in the product or service you’re promoting and an uncanny ability to convince other people of its greatness.
Chances are, you do this damn near flawlessly every day at work (slay, queen). So why is it that you can’t promote yourself with the same tact as your marketing?
To better understand, let’s look at how women typically claim their accomplishments.
Stop Thinking You Can Only Win as a Team
Whereas men often feel they “win” when they hit a goal with a numeric value, women don’t take pride in scorekeeping. Many studies, including one cited in The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work, find that women describe triumph at work as the end result of team collaboration.
A woman is more likely to credit team effort for a project’s success over her own personal impact, viewing helping their organization and their team “win” more important than an individual victory. Because of this, oftentimes, a woman will consider claiming credit for their personal contributions selfish or view it as bragging.
But why? You’re not being shameful; you’re not claiming credit you don’t deserve or failing to acknowledge others. You’re simply saying “without me, this wouldn’t have happened” or “that awesome stride was a result of my idea.”
The reality is, the team probably couldn’t have done it without you, so don’t lose sight of your role in that success.
Quit Waiting for Someone to Notice & Recognize You
Ladies, we all fall victim to this big assumption, the overly optimistic thought: “If I do an amazing job, others should take notice.”
This is what we call a cognitive distortion, which you can learn more about by reviewing these six assumptions that can undermine any marketer, but basically— cognitive distortions are thinking errors, and this is a classic “should” error.
Just because you did something, there’s no definitive reason someone should notice. Especially marketers, who divide project loads so often, it’s hard to keep track of who did what. How would someone know, unless told?
Don’t expect others to magically recognize and reward your achievements. If you did something praiseworthy, get up on stage and sing it out with confidence. Performers always thank their band, but we all know who’s soaking up the most limelight. Spoiler alert: that’s you, rockstar.
2. Establish Connections (Not Necessarily Friends), Early & Often
Women love making connections, and as a marketer, you have a number of clients at your fingertips. But are you leveraging these relationships, or simply building them?
Although having strong personal relationships can be very rewarding, alliances have their own set of powerful benefits to women in the workforce.
Start Strong from Day One
When women start a new job or meet a new group of people, they typically like to prove they can step up to the challenge before reaching out for help. They may prefer to nail down the details first, so they can come to the table with the skills and confidence they need to make an impression. This causes women to internalize a lot of responsibility.
Men look at things a little differently, asking instead, “Who should I connect with to make this job successful?” To them, it’s all about who, not what, can help them be successful. Because of this, men often begin a new job with more support and recognition, whereas women traditionally wait to form their support networks until they can work alongside the team as an equal.
To gain the same visibility as your male competitors, reach out to others quickly and often instead of waiting for them to come to you. Did you just get a new client? Do a little research about your point of contact, and when you introduce yourself, find a way to make an instant connection. Do you both like coffee? Cool beans. You’re in.
Not Every Ally Has to be Your Friend
We all want to be friends with the people we work with, and we can have a number of close confidants in the office, but not everyone has to be your BFF.
Women put higher value on deep relationships where they can openly share and breed connection. Often, they don’t invest time in building weaker connections, which can be viewed as a waste of energy for little benefit.
When forming connections, remember an ally is different than a friend.
While an ally understands what you’re trying to achieve and willingly helps move you towards your goal, they don’t have to know your son, Benjamin, is allergic to bees. Professional allies can offer women in the workforce support at work only, and that’s okay. Remember, weak ties can weave together to form a strong tightrope.
3. Say More with Less
Research shows that women speak roughly 20,000 words a day, while men only 7,000. In the male-centric corporate world, it’s no surprise business models value succinct delivery.
Precision has many benefits, often helping you communicate more easily, and as a marketer, to deliver your message more effectively. Let’s explore ways you can use some female power to get straight to the point.
Be Succinct & Don’t Over Disclose
Women bond by sharing, but trust at work is generally built through your level of competence and reliability, not the intimate information you share.
Although it’s often wonderful to collaborate with trusted colleagues, being choosy about the things you say can expedite the process for everyone involved.
When writing an email, ask yourself, “how could I say this with less words?” or when addressing clients, be mindful of what information they need to know and trim the fat. You’d be surprised how well your message and goals can be heard once you adopt a “keep it tight” mantra.
Stop Minimizing Praise by Drawing Attention Away
When recognized, stop deflecting the attention away. You can draw attention to your accomplishments without undermining your team. You can also accept praise without needing to offload additional credit to others.
Women have a tendency to add negative disqualifiers to statements such as “no, but or however” that make compliments seem unmerited. They’ll commonly say things like “thank you…. but the whole team worked hard” or “thank you…. however, Julie made final edits.”
Don’t minimize your effort. Accept credit by simply saying “thank you” and nothing else.
4. Ditch Perfectionism or People Pleasing & Be Daring
Maybe it’s the harsh way male organizational cultures judge women for mistakes or your own high standards. Gender stereotypes aside, you have always wanted things to be perfect to make your team and clients happy.
But letting go of the desire to be “perfect” could open doors of possibility for the most high-achieving women, releasing them from messy self-blame and unrealistic expectations.
You Don’t Have to Do It All
As a marketer, you have a whole team you can turn to to crush your goals. That’s because marketing isn’t a one person job! In order to be a successful unit, delegation is key.
Stop being overly involved in every part of the process. People may turn to you for help and although you love to lend a hand, is what they’re asking of you really your job? Or maybe you’re your own worst enemy— desperately wanting things to be perfect and micromanaging tasks to the point that others feel uninvolved.
We want you to think long and carefully about your priorities. When considering to step in or not, ask yourself the big “why.” Don’t think about pleasing others; what do you want and how will this help you? Or, how will not helping actually behoove other people? Sometimes the most challenging yet rewarding answer is a simple “no.”
Rising Requires Bold Action
A certain degree of risk-taking is needed to rise and grow.
Women are oftentimes rewarded for their precision, while men, their aggression and “bold” action. It’s not the ones who play it safe who stand out from the crowd, and as a woman, you need to be constantly evolving to get noticed among brazen male competition.
What are the brands you remember? The ones who made their mark with unique slogans and advertising campaigns! As a female marketer, you have to bold too. So if your gut is telling you to do something a little daring— be brave, sweetheart.
We hope that these insights inspire female marketers, and all women in the workforce, to recognize and adjust the distorted thinking patterns that get in the way of their success.
The key is repetition. We must actively practice these behaviors to establish new neural patterns. Think of it as positive conditioning, promoting change for the better.
Looking for more ways to improve your marketing efforts? Create your own brand promise to stay true to your goals and future impact.