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Why Working Harder Isn't Always the Answer: A Guide for Mid-Career Professional Women

The mistake I see many mid-career professional women making is thinking that the way to be seen, heard, recognised and promoted is… to work harder and do more.   

I really don’t know how that would be possible though, because most of the professional women I speak to are already working super hard.  

But I get it. Over the years we’ve been told that success comes to those who work hard. 

Your strong work ethic, getting the job done and doing it well, was probably what got you to where you are today.  It may be what you are known for. It’s likely helped to open up some fabulous opportunities for you over the years. You may have even crafted a reputation as someone who is super helpful, reliable and dependable.  

But being helpful, useful and reliable is likely the very thing that is now holding you back.   

It was great in the early years of your career but if you want to be seen as an impactful leader it will keep you stuck at the level, you’re at.   

Take a look at the leaders who you admire. And think about this for a moment... 

Are they stuck in the day to day, busy doing low value tasks? 

NO, they are not!   

The brutal truth is that working harder and doing more is more likely to lead to burnout than respect, recognition or an amazing job offer.  

So, you may be wondering… how do you get to that next level of leadership, impact and recognition?  

It starts with DOING LESS and dedicating more time and energy to actually LEADING.   

It may seem counterintuitive at first. How can you get ahead when you are actually DOING less? 

It’s quite simple really. When you’re busy being busy you’ve got no time or head space to truly lead.   

Leadership is about setting the vision, making impactful decisions, solving the big problems and focusing on progressing projects that will support the growth and sustainability of the business. It’s about building and leading high performing teams and supporting and mentoring people to perform at their best.   

All of these activities require space to think.   

So that’s exactly where you need to start – by creating the space to think and lead.   

That means taking back control of your calendar. I recommend that my clients start by clearing the clutter, removing unnecessary meetings and creating at least 1 or 2 chunks of time each week which they dedicate to focusing on the big picture work of leadership.  

It means setting boundaries.  

It means saying NO to the busy work so you can focus on the work that matters.  

But first… 

Do you actually know what work matters most to you, your team and the organisation?   

If you want your talents and capabilities to be recognised, it’s important you’re prioritising based on what matters most to your boss (and their boss!)  Too often I see women lost in the weeds of the day to day and not focused on the work that is in alignment with the organisations goals, and then wonder why they are being overlooked for promotion or interesting projects.  

Recognition will come from DOING LESS, creating space to think, and focusing your efforts on what matters most to the organisation and doing work that supports the business goals.   

And finally – we cant overlook the importance of making time and space prioritise you.   

Being happy, healthy and well rested is a prerequisite for great leadership. It supports productivity, is the foundation of creativity and is essential to enable you to show up as the best version of you!  

Taking time out for you is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. As is getting enough sleep, making sure you move your body, and doing what you need to do to quieten your mind and nurture your spirit.  

So, let me ask you…. 

Do you really want to stay stuck in the day-to-day busyness, working really hard – but not getting the recognition you deserve?  

Or is it time to break free of this pattern and finally step up to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition – not by doing more but by doing less?   

 

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