There is a growing, global realization that women are the biggest emerging market ever seen. Women will be the key to a competitive advantage in business, government, educational institutions, communities, and emerging markets around the world.
Gender inequality, polarization, and prevailing negative stereotypes remain a significant impediment to women advancing in the workforce. To advance professionally, women must be visionary, visible, vocal, and add value—the “Four V’s”.
1. Be a visionary.
Companies today are starving for visionary leadership —that is simply the ability to invoke followers without coercion, to recognize challenges and growth opportunities before they happen and to offer solutions, and position people to produce extraordinary results. Women have the emotional intelligence and the unique skills and strengths to do all three of these. It starts with having a personal vision that will carry over into your volunteer work, your career, your relationships, and your social life. Women who don’t know their vision risk having others define it for them, leaving them limited and confined.
2. Be visible.
Seek broad exposure across the organization, your industry, and your community. Being visible is also about building alliances, working your network, and leveraging the relationships in a way that can benefit both of you. It’s also about who you bring into your personal space and attach yourself to. Know what reputation they have and what associating with them might mean for your career. People make assessments and assumptions by the people you hang around because they know that association brings about assimilation.
3. Be vocal.
A prevailing weakness of women in the workplace is that we often shy away from finding our voice in the organization. We must learn to speak up, speak out, and be willing to have courageous conversations. Studies reveal that women are less likely than men to demand more pay, promotions, and are uncomfortable “tooting their own horn.”
Women still tend to think that their results alone will speak for themselves. We have to learn how to politically, strategically, and tactfully toot our own horn: share new ideas that you implemented and the results you achieved; recognize the efforts of a project team that you led; or forward an email to your boss with feedback about you from a client or customer. Men do it all the time.
4. Add value.
Women bring unique skills and insights that can be developed and leveraged. Don’t just shoot for trying to impress the world around you, but aim to impact the world. Leave a professional legacy.