It is lonely at the top. That’s a fact borne out in my work with senior leaders. The higher up the organization you go, the fewer peers you have. The people giving you advice have their own agendas, not nefarious…
I am often approached to coach senior female executives. They are universally successful and high performers, but there’s some aspect of their behavior with which some of their colleagues have a problem. It’s generally one of two things. They are either considered too hard-charging and abrasive by some colleagues. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, they are told they are not assertive enough and can’t command the room. I have yet to be approached to help a man modify his behavior on these parameters.
So who’s got the problem here? You could argue that the parameters for female behavior in the workplace are simply narrower than for men and should be changed. You’d be correct. But how does that help? I think there’s a fine balance between pushing to change the culture and saving yourself some grief by modulating your behavior to make it more palatable for your audience. My advice is that you’re playing a long game here. Alternate modulating and pushing. Pick your battles. Support other women. And for goodness sake, go for that promotion so you will have more standing and influence in changing the culture and making it more their problem than yours.
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