Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In, has created a lot of debate. Here's my take on some of the issues involving gender inequities in the workplace and how we can navigate through them at this moment in time.
Diversity specialists in corporate America are doing courageous work -- fighting the "good fight" on a day-to-day basis and slowly chipping away at the culture of companies. But major changes will take time.
However, that doesn't mean women can't advance to higher levels right now. Despite the resistance that's there, we have the power to have great impact and move up the ranks.
In order to do that, we need to take a look at what may be holding us back on a personal level. Do the inner-work and reflect on questions like the following:
• What false beliefs do I have about myself and my abilities? Become aware of what you are thinking.
• Where does this come from? (a parent, teacher, ex-boss, current boss, etc.). Reflect on your past.
• In this moment in time, is that really true about me? Challenge yourself to see the truth.
To help you propel forward and stay on the advancement track, these tips may prove effective:
Be aware. Where do you place your energy each day? Are you letting the people who try to pull you down succeed? If you interpret their actions as a reflection of their own fears and insecurities, rather than having anything to do with what you've done, it will be easier to keep focused on your work.
Stop worrying. Your instincts and judgments are good. Pick your issues and go with what you believe is right. Once you make a decision, don't second-guess yourself. It's not a productive use of your energy.
Think bolder. Confront your negative mind-talk and take on an affirming thought instead. Here's an example: (Negative) "I won't be able to pull off leading this project."
(Positive) "Of course I can. My skills are good and what I don't know, I can delegate."
Shift how you view discomfort. Stepping outside your comfort zone and moving out in new ways won't feel comfortable. But discomfort means you're growing. Don't lean back, "lean in." Have the courage to do it differently. Your judgment is probably right on.
Claim your talents and abilities. Many of us were taught not to brag, but false modesty doesn't work in business. When you are proud of something you or your team has accomplished, slip it into the conversation. If you are not there for yourself, who will be?
Take smart risks. Change is happening so rapidly -- what worked before will probably not work now. Think outside of the box. Even if your ideas are a bit risky, trust your instincts and let your voice be heard.
And finally, women need to support other women. Pay it forward!