How to Walk that Fine Line in Your Career Each Day...

Chris Makell

August 09, 2016

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It's no secret (heck it's a highly visible discussion in women in tech twitter feeds, facebook groups, slack and other forums) women in tech are facing the ever-present challenge of women in tech representation in leadership roles.

So it's no wonder that you walk a fine line every day between staying focused and well just plain "staying." Knowing first hand how challenging it can be when you're the "only one" in the room, how can you take care of your responsibilities without getting caught up in the negative rumination?

It's in part, one of the reasons why some leaders derail in their careers, others throw up their hands and make a hasty exit, while still others resign themselves to play "hide and seek" within their organizations. They just aren't sure what to do with all the negative feelings. An examination of each of these "options" will reveal how to take care of your well-being and erase the fine line you walk every day.

Career derailment. It usually begins with an assumption. Some women leaders assume that if they work hard, dot the "I's" and cross the "T's" then the right thing (promotions, opportunities, money) will happen for them. They hope that the right person is paying attention and seeing how hard they've worked and contributed. Here's the fine line: You must "make some noise" about what you're working on and the contribution it's making.

Since most people are focused on themselves 24/7, especially your boss, then they aren't thinking about you. Carve out some of their "self-thinking" time on a regular basis to update them on progress toward positioning yourself for the promotion, opportunity and money you're ready for.

Throw up your hands and make a hasty exit. Here your frustration is showing. Without a doubt, you face a huge challenge when watching the lack of movement for women into key positions and instances where women are not being "heard" around the table.

The fine line you walk is in going from one lion's den to another without the benefit of "setting new standards." If you're ready to make a "hasty exit" ensure that the next "landing" is a place that meets your new standards, for where you can be effective.

Finally, playing "hide and seek" in your organization. This is a well-used tactic for women leaders who want to keep their heads down, work hard and just find safe havens when things get rough. It's like a game of whack a mole and hanging on for a paycheck.

The fine line you walk is not feeling good and accomplished at the end of your day. We all seek a level of value ourselves. When you play "hide and seek," you begin to diminish your hopes and dreams for the mere sake of survival. Consider a different way to both experience and deliver your value -- perhaps in a volunteer or mentoring capacity.

Walking the fine line is a step woman in tech leaders take every day. These strategies help you overcome self-defeating behavior that not only hurts your career but also can hurt your heart as you work in this industry.

When you make some noise, set new standards and get your values met, that fine line fades and your success can now soar.

Chris will share more step-by-step stories and strategies on an upcoming webinar, How Successful Leaders Beat Self-Defeat, August 18, 2016.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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