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Being overlooked? Here’s why

Being overlooked? Here’s why

Ever wonder to yourself “why am I being overlooked?” You are working hard. No… you are working really hard. You know you are good at want you do and you are getting great results. Your team members are engaged, love you and you know you are doing a great job building talent.

But yet…

You don’t feel valued.  You are not getting promoted.  And you suspect you are being paid less than your peers.

But why?

I blame The Good Girl Syndrome. It’s not the entire answer but it definitely plays a part for many women.

From an early age we learnt that being “good” got us recognition, praise and attention. I know this is my story.

As a little girl I was praised for being “good” when visiting friends. As I got older I spent hours perfecting my assignments and studying for long hours to get recognition for good grades. Then as I entered the workforce, working hard brought me promotions and opportunities without even looking for them.

So sticking to the model of working hard and following the system, structure and rules worked for a time… but then the interesting opportunities ran dry.

There is no doubt that working hard is a great strategy in our early career but it’s not enough as we step into the more senior leadership roles.

Relying on hard work alone, will only lead to resentment, frustration and ultimately burnout.

You are way too smart and have way too much to offer to remain overlooked and under appreciated. And, right now more than ever, organisations NEED what you have to offer.

It’s time to focus on what will get you a valued position at the leadership table.

If you are being overlooked… here’s what to do

1. Stop The Busy Bee Work.

For many women, it’s as simple as… they are working on the wrong things.

They are focused on the details rather than the big picture. They get trapped in the day to day implementation rather than being seen to be strategic thinkers who can move the business forward.

Don’t get me wrong. These tasks are important. But the question must be; are you the best person to be doing them or could you support one of your team members to take on this responsibility?

And when you focus on these tasks, what aren’t you getting around to doing? What big ticket projects or strategic pieces of work are you failing to complete in timely fashion?

Put it another way – you are a Busy Worker Bee when, to be truly seen, heard and valued, you need to be operating more like the Queen Bee.

Worker Bee work does not get you the recognition or access to the best roles or a seat at the leadership table. Queen Bee work does.

2. Get Visible.

Putting your head down and working hard usually means that you are too busy to be building strategic relationships and networking. If you want to stop being overlooked… you need to get visible.

You need to get known.  And you need to build relationships with the key decision makers in your business and in your industry. And like any relationships, business relationships take time and energy.

It’s time to get out from behind your desk and connect in person. Make time for coffee.  The people I have the best business relationships with are with those people who I’ve made time to meet in person in a more relaxed social setting.

And make sure that those that matter know what you do, what your career aspirations are and what value you add.

Career aspirations will never be realised if you keep them a secret!

3. Discover what part you play.

It’s now time for some soul searching. If you are being overlooked… there is usually a reason. We are usually doing something to contribute to the situations we find ourselves in.

I know. This is pretty hard to face up to at times. It would be so much easier if we could blame the boys club or the funding cuts or the leader who is blind to the talent they have right in front of them.

But the honest truth… there is always something we are doing that results in us being overlooked.

What is it for you? Let’s be honest.

Progress and change all starts with self awareness.

Is it that you’re focused on the Busy Worker Bee work? Is it that you are not blowing your own trumpet and letting people know about the results you and your team are getting? Is it that you are seen as difficult or unapproachable?

Is it that you are focused on driving the results at the expense of the team or is it that you are focusing on developing the team at the expense of delivering on the big picture business strategy?

Whatever it is… it’s very likely that it’s within your control to change.

Being overlooked is frustrating and can impact your confidence. But let’s see it as a sign that something needs to change.

The good news is… big change is usually not required. Tiny tweaks is all it takes.

Don’t stay stuck where you are…. being overlooked for the best roles.

LET'S CONNECT

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Business Acumen: The key to career advancement

Business Acumen: The key to career advancement

 

Have you ever wondered what it is that you need to do to transition from middle management to a more senior role? You work hard, you do great work, your team like you but still you are being passed over and senior roles remain elusive.

And clearly the statistics confirm you are not alone in this struggle.

Women represent about 50% of middle management and professional positions, but the percentage of women at the top has stagnated below 20%.

We know that organisations with significant representation of women at the top do better than those that don’t. We know that more and more women want to take a seat at the leadership table. But still women struggle to make their mark in the type of numbers that will really make a difference.

So what’s going wrong?

Obviously there’s no one simple answer to this complex question. There’s work to be done to minimise unconscious bias. There’s work to be done nurturing the pipeline of talent. There’s work to be done to make it more appealing for women to participate more fully at the top.

And there’s no shortage of advice being offered to help women create change at a personal level.  This advice includes being more assertive, acting with confidence, speaking up, taking bolder career choices and expanding their network.

These are all important and I share this exact same advice often with the women I work with… however, it’s not enough.

The difference between languishing in middle management and being considered for the top roles is... business acumen

But many women are failing to focus on building business, strategic and financial acumen.

Why are so many women missing this point?

It’s not because we don’t have or can’t develop business, strategic and financial acumen. It has more to do with the fact that very few women are clearly told how essential these skills are for reaching the top.

For some reason it’s assumed that we already know how.

Susan Colantuon in her TED Talk: The career advice you probably didn’t get, suggests that it’s a basic expectation by senior leaders.

However, when Susan asked an audience of 150 women “How many of you have ever been told that the door-opener for career advancement is your business, strategic and financial acumen, and that all the other important stuff is what differentiates you in the talent pool?” only three women raised their hand.

It’s clear it’s something we need to give more focus to.

How to demonstrate business acumen

1. Learn to love the numbers. Never undermine your credibility as a leader by demonstrating your lack of financial acumen. Learn about the numbers and speak about them in a way that demonstrates your depth of knowledge. Identify and focus on the key metrics and embrace financial knowledge as a major part of your strategic decision-making.

2. Focus on what matters most. As a leader, you must focus on what matters most to the organisation. Too often I see women getting bogged down into the day to day busyness and losing sight of how they are contributing to achieving the strategic business objectives.

Prioritise your diary to allow time each week to focus your energy on those activities that will move you and the business closer to achieving the results that matter.

3.  Develop your strategic thinking. Remember that your high-level technical skills do not necessarily translate into being seen as a leader. To be considered for the next high-level leadership opportunity you need to demonstrate big picture thinking.

You must have a broad awareness of the organisation, an understanding of the strategic direction and the ability to see opportunities, innovate and make strategic decisions.

Ask yourself:

Are you consistently demonstrating your financial, strategic and business acumen?

  • Do you understand where your organisation is going?
  • Do you know what the over arching business strategy is?
  • Are you clear on what the financial targets are?
  • Do you understand your role in moving the organisation forward?
  • Are you demonstrating your potential for leading the business, not just leading the people?

To close the gender gap at the top, we need to build business acumen.

We must focus more on developing and demonstrating our understanding of business financials, know where the business is heading, and clearly align our day to day activities to delivering the business imperatives.

Get out there. Get strategic. Focus on what matters most. And open the door to your career advancement by demonstrating your business acumen.

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

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Sadly, I never got to know her before dementia stole her memory and much of her spark, but Betty clearly was a special woman. As I sat in the chapel listening to her life story, I reflected on how different her life would have been if she had lived in a different era.

Jane Benston

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