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I Couldn't Help But Wonder - Are We Bitches?

I Couldn't Help But Wonder - Are We Bitches?

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Last year was all about female empowerment and the feminist movement.  It seemed like every female celebrity, friends, and colleagues were proudly announcing how they were going to say sorry less at work and be more assertive.  Women shouted it from the rooftops, refused to be ignored around the conference table and jammed out to Beyonce.  The books, Lean In and #GirlBoss were a glimmer into how we can also free ourselves from being pushed back by men (and ourselves) and make what we're worth.

I am woman - hear me roar!

However, a la Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn't help but wonder - are we bitches?

Sure, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey once famously said, 'bitches get stuff done."  I love those women because they're funny and frank, but can you actually apply that at work and expect to get ahead?  It's a mentality which turns into your actions and thoughts at work.

"Bitches get stuff done."

Just think about that for one second.  Has all this helped more women navigate the work world?  Not what you see on social media or read in the headlines, but has it truly helped Jane Doe working in a corporate company get ahead?

I'd be surprised if it did.

I have spent my career working as a marketing executive in the green tech and managed cloud hosting sectors, reporting directly to the CEO.  I've hired and fired, led cross-functional teams, worked internationally and spent it among talented men and women.  I started out as a humble marketing intern, worked my way up the ranks and even made the coveted six figure salary by the time I turned 26.  I've seen quite a lot in the workplace and truly believe that if you want to get ahead, male or female, you must commit to working hard, being kind and staying humble.

As an executive, it always perplexed me when a young woman would interview and spew out all the feminists jargon, for lack of a better word, about not letting men hold them back and not saying sorry.  Some of them truly believed that this would get them the job and that it showed how tenacious they could be.

Honestly, it was disheartening.  After going through this a dozen more times with other female candidates, I sincerely questioned whether all this feminist talk is really helping the cause in the workplace.

[bctt tweet="If you really want to get ahead, you must work hard, be kind and stay humble." username="Les_Naly"]

It doesn't mean you can't be a strong assertive woman at work.  But there is no quicker way to the bottom than inheriting the mentality that, "bitches get stuff done."   If you approach your career, relationships with colleagues and navigate the work jungle gym with that mentality you may find yourself stifled.

If you really want to get ahead at work, I challenge you to think differently with these tips:

Don't empower yourself with the term, bitch (at least not at work)

Sure, you're not going to declare that you're a bitch to the recruiter but having that mindset will come off in everything you say.  Remember, what you think - you become.  Eventually it will become apparent to your boss and colleagues that hey, Jane Doe really is a bitch, and I don't want to work with her.

See yourself as a qualified member of a team or unit

Companies don't want to hire superstars that can't see the bigger picture or work well with others.  They'd rather hire someone who is decently qualified but fits well with their company culture and team.  Know that you're being hired to work well with others and going in with a team mentality will make you appear more open and collaborative.

Have respect for women and men in the workplace

Don't assume that all men in the corporate world are out to get you.  Some of the most influential mentors I've had were men.  There will be strays here and there that don't have your best intentions in mind, but there are also strays for women.  Treat everyone the way you'd like to be treated.

Analyze the situation

Take time to really analyze whether you're being scrutinized for being a woman or if you simply dropped the ball on a project.  A female colleague of mine seemed to always blame work related issues and upsets on being a woman.  Unfortunately some of it was true, but other times it was because of something else - poor project management, lack of skill set and/or simply missing a goal. Analyze the situation and don't automatically blame it on being a female.

Don't play mind games at work

If you want to get ahead, you must ask your boss what that roadmap looks like.  They won't be able to read your mind and all your hard work and efforts may not connect to getting ahead if you aren't clear with your boss.  What can I do to get a raise?  How can I become a manager?  Don't be afraid to ask your boss and let them know your intentions.  Then do it, and after a while follow-up with them about how you met those milestones and that you would like to discuss getting ahead.

Use good judgement when saying sorry

The "sorry not sorry," movement on social media may work in some scenarios but not in all.  If you jolted a meeting and went in with the mentality, "I'm not going to apologize," it could come off wrong.  Know when, and when not to say, "I'm sorry."  I remember a meeting I had with some clients, and a younger female colleague barged in to get my attention about a call.  She did so twice, and didn't apologize.  Although I knew she had good intentions, it left a sour taste with our clients - "how rude."

Know the signs

Some workplaces are toxic and have poor company culture.  No matter what you do or how hard you work, the culture a company has is deeply associated with your success.  Make sure you know the signs of a toxic work environment and when to move on.  Sometimes, that's the only way to get ahead and find greener work pastures.  When interviewing ask specific questions about the company culture and manager-employee relationships.  It will give you insight into whether you want to invest your time and energy there.

Navigating the work world can often be complex and riddled with politics (we'll talk about dealing with work politics in a later article) but it's also rewarding to move up the ladder and have the support from your work family.  Even if you have no intentions of moving up the ladder, following these tips will show your boss that you're a great employee worthy of advancement.  And if the signs are showing that it's time to move on, then start looking now.

What do you think about the term, "bitches get stuff done"?  Has it helped you in the workplace?  What work advice do you have for other women?

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