We’ve recommended “Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office” as one of our must-reads for PYPs, and Dr. Frankel graciously shared her analysis of some common mistakes we might not even know we are making.
PYP: What are the biggest mistakes women tend to make as they transition from college to conference room?
Dr. Frankel: Taking jobs that are beneath their capabilities and education. A woman will often take a job as an administrative assistant just to get her ”foot in the door.” This only extends the amount of time it will take her to secure a position commensurate with her talent. Men don’t do this. They begin building their career portfolios from the start, as should women. Studies also show that women out of college don’t negotiate as well as men for their first salary, and this impacts future income.
Young women are socialized from an early age to be nice. How do we fight this entrenched behavior?
You don’t actually want to fight being nice. Nice is necessary for success in any endeavor—it’s just not sufficient. It’s better to continue being nice AND add more direct, assertive behaviors to balance the niceness. For example, you can give your opinion in a direct, straightforward way then add a tag line such as, “You can hear I feel strongly about this. I’d also like to know what you think.” This creates a great balance.
What four mistakes would a PYP be shocked to know she is subconsciously making?
1.) She puts opinions in the form of questions. Rather than say, ”I believe this the right direction to go for the reasons I’ve already stated,” she’ll say, “What would you think if we go in this direction?” The latter sounds a lot less authoritative.
2.) She apologizes too much. Apologizing always puts you in a one-down position. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a time and place for apologies, but they should be reserved for when you’ve made an egregious or costly mistake. Otherwise, it’s okay to simply say, ”I didn’t realize that would bother you. Why don’t you tell me how you would like me to do it in the future?”
3.) Her subconscious feelings about wealth and being ”rich.” When I speak with women about being rich, almost to a person they tell me they don’t want to be rich, just comfortable. My response is always, “What’s wrong with being rich!?” Because women don’t focus on money in the same way that men do, they are less likely to accumulate the wealth they need to live on their terms and protect themselves in case of divorce, illness, or economic downturns.
4.) The degree to which she strives to please others (the “disease to please”). Women frequently put their needs behind those of others and ultimately become frustrated, unfulfilled, or angry. This is one we talk more about in my newest book, Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, co-authored with Carol Frohlinger and to be released April 19th.
What are a few strategies to establish yourself as a leader early in your career?
1.) Consciously define your leadership brand. Think about what you want people to say about you when you walk out of a room. Then finish the sentence, “There goes a leader who____.” Identify the behaviors you have to engage in for people to see those traits or characteristics in you.
2.) Be among the first two to three people to speak in a meeting then speak up regularly thereafter. People ascribe greater self-confidence to those who speak up. You don’t always have to give your opinion; supporting what someone else has said, asking a question, or clarifying a point are all ways to have your voice heard.
3.) Make a great business case for your proposals and ideas. There’s a Chinese curse: “May you have a wonderful idea and not be able to convince anyone of it.” Having all the facts and data you need to support your concepts shows you’re prepared, analytical, and focused on the key business issues.
I tend to be verbose; how can I be more concise and why is that important?
First, keep in mind that “short sounds confident.” The more words you use, you soften a message—which is often what women are trying to do without realizing it. Before opening your mouth, think about the most important thing you want people to take away from your message. That should be the first thing you say. It’s usually only 25 to 30 words. Then support that with two to three pieces of brief data. For example, “I believe we must change our marketing strategy before the end of the year or we will lose a significant market share. I say that for three reasons. First, our competitors are going high tech and eclipsing our efforts. Second, our customers no longer use the same methods for purchasing our products as they did even 2 years ago. And third, we haven’t examined our strategic plan in over five years. It’s time to do so now.” You can hear the clarity and confidence in this message when it’s not surrounded by unnecessary words.