Wendywoman on women in the workplace…

Reporter Query:

The idea of “women getting ahead in the workplace” is nothing new. However, as the workplace evolves, the strategies women use to try to advance their careers must change too. Thinking about the specific issues that women face in the workplace today, what cutting-edge strategies for career advancement can you recommend?

Over the past decade, business has changed but leaders have not. It takes a special kind of person to excel in today’s environment. Those that are timid, submissive and governed by rulebooks need not apply. With so many leaders currently ineffective in the skills required to manage through the next few years, companies will admittedly be faced with a gaping hole in talent. The opportunities for women to advance have never been better if they can develop the critical skills required. First, dispose of risk aversion. In an era where driving change will most likely remain at the top of the priority list, you cannot be the person who always wants to play it safe when it comes to decisions and behaviors. The ability to manage organizational change, i.e., going global, with minimal human capital casualties is mandatory. Second, dispose of approval dependence. Enter the economic downturn and never has innovation been more important. It is the lifeline of every successful organization. If you need to look to your boss and colleagues for permission, you’ll be dead in the water. Innovation requires independent thinking; more than just thinking outside the box. It requires the ability to challenge existing paradigms when no one else will. Third, dispose of your “what’s in it for me” attitude. Become a mentor. Younger workers today are easily discouraged and more likely to quit. Because they stay in jobs shorter periods of time, productivity suffers. Become a mentor so you can make a difference in their lives by helping them develop concrete skills and build strong relationships. They tend to abhor formal structure so at the same time, you will have the opportunity to be free-flowing and develop your own leadership skills.

Do these strategies vary depending on women’s age and stage of career? Do they vary by industry? Or can the strategies apply equally across the board?

No. These strategies can be applied across the board. The only variable that may change is the level of intensity with which they are applied.