Seven Assumptions Women Make in Gaining Visibility

Betty LaMarr

April 01, 2009

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I know you are probably banging your head and asking, “Why do I need to be doing anything special to get visibility other than doing my job?” Don't we wish that was the case? I was raised like so many women today and was told if you work hard and do a good job you will naturally get the promotion and the raise. Well, guess what? I tried that, and it didn't work.

I had that college girl mindset: get a good grade and the grade will speak for itself. I was always looking for that quiet recognition and hoping that my boss was using some 'fairness meter.'

Of course this 'fairness meter' was based on what I perceived as fair for everyone, which goes back to the 'good grade' mentality. Because we tend to get in a loop about working hard and getting recognized and promoted, I think it is important to understand that not everyone sees the world through our eyes, and we will have to take an active role in getting more visibility and not accepting a passive role.

What is the 'It Factor’? It’s when you are the one that people listen to, like, and remember. It is when people see you work, the only way they can describe what you do is by saying, “I don't know what she does, but that's IT!” “She's IT,” or “She's the ONE.” That is the effect that we all want to have when we feel acknowledged and valued.

In other words, when we feel that we are visible.

Sound like anyone you know?

"I handle multiple projects at the same time and still deliver results on time within budget. Why doesn't that tell them how good I am?"

This quote is from an experienced team leader who handles large project implementations for her company and has team members in other parts of the globe. She is right; she works harder than her male counterparts, she follows all the procedures, and sends out reports about the project on time to all interested parties. So what's missing and why isn't she next in line for a promotion? Here are seven common mistakes that women make:

Assumption #1—Women Think That Working Harder Trumps Socializing

Men will get an invitation to lunch from the boss, and they will take it and make up the work on the backend. Women think if they show they are working hard, they will get 'credit.'

Assumption #2—Women Accept the Role of Continuing to Prove Themselves

When it is time for a promotion, women will often be willing to take a role that is either temporary or one that allows the company to do a 'test drive' to see if she can cut it.

Assumption #3—Women Take Themselves Too Seriously and Act Like It Is Not Okay to Joke or Laugh

We have to learn to get comfortable with who we are as women. When we are comfortable and confident in our abilities and style, we can then become more adaptable when others do things differently. Sometimes we can be so focused on a task that we take it personally when the conversation goes to something funny or offtopic.

Especially, if we are leading the meeting. It seems to be a reflection of our lack of control.

Assumption #4—Women Talk About Their Involvement as Part of a Group Instead of Identifying Personal Contribution

How many times have you heard women tell a story about the 'royal we' instead of a discussion about what distinct leadership they brought to the project. It is as though we are afraid to stand without being surrounded by a team.

Assumption #5—Women Are Uncomfortable with Self Promotion

Find ways to self-promote indirectly by telling the story about the project and your role in it.

We are afraid of appearing as though we are 'bragging' so when we are asked about a project, we tell the story about how everyone else contributed, and we expect that others will interpret from that what our role was. You can compliment others and still give examples in the story about what you did.

Assumption #6—Women Lack Confidence About What They Know and Don't Know

Men don't use a lot of qualifiers. Women do. I.e., 'I can learn.' As women, we are conditioned to represent ourselves as less capable. We need to be aware that there are times that we reject male ego behavior and success so much that we go all the way to the other end of the pendulum to compensate. It is important to realize that we have the ability to use both our feminine energy and our male energy as appropriate. Focus on what you do know, not what you don't know.

Assumption #7—Women Are Afraid to Take Risks

Limited by our perceived weaknesses and failures. I was told a story once by my mentor when I was looking at a promotion and identifying all the qualifications of the job that I didn't have. He said to me if you were a guy looking at this job and there were 10 qualifications, and he met what he considered to be four key elements, he would go interview for the position.

As a woman, I was looking at it and telling myself that if I didn't have at least eight of the 10, I probably shouldn't go for it. We need to stop judging ourselves so harshly.

We are better than we think we are.

Betty LaMarr is executive coach/CEO for Nadisa Associates, a professional coaching company that specializes in supporting emerging women leaders in technology to achieve success through personal choices and leadership. If you want to learn more about influence, work-life balance, and getting visibility so that you get the recognition and the money you deserve, sign up for our complimentary eCourse "Get Visibility and Create the "It" Factor" at,/span>

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