Today I attended a presentation at work given by three very successful women with the titles of either Principal or Executive Director. Women leaders – successful in their careers, married, with young children (average age of about 9). The presentation was on each of these women’s path to success, and my main takeaway can be summarized with three things:
Role Models – In advancing your career, it certainly helps to have role models. Who inspires you? Who do you feel would make a good pattern for you to follow? Who is someone a little farther in life than you, or a few steps ahead of you in his or her career? We always need to find at least one role model to emulate, to help give us an idea of the direction we’re going.
Mentors – Role models are great, but they’re not the same as mentors. Role models are ones we can look up to and learn from by observation, but mentors are those who can advise us in what our next move should be, and how to go about making that next move in our profession. Wherever we are in our career, we need to find a mentor, and they are always there, we just need to find them! This helps give us an even clearer direction. But, having a mentor is still not enough. We cannot get stuck in mentoring and not go on from there.
Advocates – Finally, there are those who can be our advocates. What does that mean? An advocate is someone who can actually make things HAPPEN for you to take the next step. I think the word “advocate” itself is pretty self explanatory. Our responsibility as those wishing to advance our career is to articulate exactly what we want to people who can make it happen for us. Who are those people? They are the advocates. Where do you find them? Well, it takes initiative on our part.
We can’t let anyone assume what we want out of our career. We can’t just assume that others know that we want to advance our career. So it is crucial that we don’t just bury our head in work and assume that one day if we just do our job well, someone will come up to us to give us a promotion. It doesn’t really work that way, most of the time.
We can’t just stay stuck and assume advancement will eventually happen! It’s important to always be thinking, what should be next small step forward be? There is always the opportunity, but we need to seek it out, rather than just being passive.
One of the speakers of this presentation talked about “the glass ceiling,” meaning that there’s a ceiling made of a material that you can’t see, so the ceiling to the amount of growth you can attain to has no limit, as long as sought out work continues to exist.
Regardless of your boss’s or other people’s assumptions, YOU have to keep going forward, and don’t stay stuck where you are. I’m currently speaking to myself as I write this post.
My next step – After this presentation, I immediately had a coworker introduce me to the CFO of the finance department at my company. I currently work in quality assurance but I’ve been thinking to get into finance for my long-term goal. So I was inspired and encouraged by these successful women to take responsibility to seek out a potential role model, mentor, and maybe eventually an advocate.
I’ve set up a one on one meeting with the CFO of finance for tomorrow morning. Pray for the best!